What if I Can’t Pay My Taxes? Top 7 Scary Tax Questions

The information in this article is up to date through tax year 2019 (taxes filed in 2020). 

Some people are excited about tax season because it means a big refund is heading their way. But for others, tax time is scary. Maybe it’s the IRS. Maybe it’s feeling unprepared. Whatever the case, sometimes it just helps to identify what is scaring you. Here are some of the most common questions surrounding tax filing – and how you can face them.  

What happens if I make a mistake on my taxes?  

If you realize you’ve made a mistake entering your data while filing your taxes, you can file an amended return. You have up to three years after your original return was submitted to correct your errors and still receive your refund. If you think you may owe taxes, it’s best to file your amendment before the tax filing deadline so you can pay the amount due on time and avoid penalties.  Not all mistakes require you to take action though.

If you’re unsure if you claimed your deductions and credits correctly, you don’t have to be. TaxSlayer asks you questions about your situation to ensure that you get all the breaks you deserve. This is a part of our maximum refund guarantee. At the same time, you can’t accidentally take a credit or deduction for which you don’t qualify.

For more information, read 5 Myths About Filing Taxes Online.   

What if I don’t have everything I need to file my taxes? 

Feeling unprepared can make anyone nervous. In that case, it’s useful to have a list of items you’ll need to have when you file. Take a look at our recommended tax filing checklist here.  

It might also help to review some of the basic tax terms you’ll see when you file. Learning these essential tax terms is a good start.

You might also want to learn a little bit about the tax forms you’ll fill out. Read more about those here 

First time filing? Here’s what you need to know. 

What if I get audited? 

An audit is simply a review of your account. The IRS wants to make sure the information you reported and the amount of tax you paid is correct. Just because you get audited doesn’t mean there’s a problem.  

If your tax return is selected for an audit, it goes under review. It can still be accepted as correct, or it can be questioned further. If the IRS decides an audit is required, they will notify you by mail. The actual audit could also be conducted through mail or an in-person interview. Either way, the IRS will send you a written request for the exact documents they need to see. They have up to three years to audit your taxes.

The length of the audit depends on a few factors: how complicated your tax situation is, if you have the documents ready and if you agree or disagree with the findings. The decision will be one of the following:  

1.) The IRS requires no change, and your return is accepted.  

2.) The IRS proposes a change, and you agree to the change.  

3.) The IRS suggests a change, and you disagree with it.  

 What if I owe a penalty for taxes? 

It’s important to understand why certain people receive tax penalties. The IRS requires you to pay your bill by the tax deadline if you owe. If you don’t pay by the deadline, you may have to pay a penalty. If you need more time to file your taxes, but you don’t request more time from the IRS, you could also be penalized.

If you’re scared to file your taxes, it’s probably tempting to put it off to the last minute. But submitting your return or requesting an extension by the tax filing deadline is very important to avoid being hit with a tax penalty.  

Read also: 5 Things to Know About Tax Penalties and Interest 

What if I don’t get a refund? 

If you suspect your refund will be smaller this year due to the recent tax law changes or changes in your life situation, you don’t need to wait to file your tax return to find out. TaxSlayer’s Refund Calculator allows you to calculate your expected refund anytime. Get your refund estimate now.

What if I can’t pay my tax bill?

If you owe the IRS money and worry you can’t afford to pay the bill when it is due, you might be tempted just not to file a tax return. However, this could result in a negative outcome. The IRS could garnish your wages or take other actions against you to get what back what you owe them.

So it is better to pay on time. But the IRS has payment plans available if you can’t. The best thing you can do is to research your options and be proactive. Learn about the IRS payment plans here.

What if I don’t know how to file my taxes? 

You don’t have to be a tax expert to file your own taxes, and you don’t have to do it all on your own. TaxSlayer offers all customers a guided tax filing experience, so it’s simple to prepare, print, and file your basic forms. All products offer free email and live phone support, too, in case you have specific questions to answer. Certain products include additional options as well, like live chat, IRS audit assistance, and the ability to speak with a tax expert. For a list of support options and to compare TaxSlayer products, read more here.

This article is intended to provide general information to the public and does not provide personalized tax, investment, legal, or business advice. You should seek the assistance of a professional for advice on taxes, investments, and any other financial, legal, or business matter pertinent to your individual situation.