The Surprisingly Complex World of Federal Tax Refunds

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Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



This article was written to highlight some of the unusual and more complex aspects of federal tax refunds.

The rules governing the timing for filing refund claims and the rules governing the amount allowable on a refund claim are located in Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”)2 section 6511 and can be deceivingly complex and perplexing. There are, however, hidden gems that provide periods beyond the general three years to file a refund claim. These gems sometimes go “un-mined.” Much of the confusion and litigation can be blamed on the interpretation of a vaguely worded statute.