What to Do if You Miss the Tax Filing Deadline

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If you can’t get your federal return filed before taxes are due, you can usually get extra time by filing an extension. To avoid penalty fees, you’ll need to file Federal Extension Form 4868 and pay any amount you owe by the tax filing deadline. As long as the IRS accepts your request, you will have six extra months to file your return for the tax year.

If the tax filing deadline comes and goes and you haven’t filed your return or extension, you may be wondering what will happen. Find out what you can expect and the steps you can take to correct the situation below.

What should I do if I miss the tax deadline?

Fill out your income tax return exactly as you would typically do. Then enter your W-2, 1099, or other income and tax reporting forms into TaxSlayer.  The only thing that might be different from filing during tax season is the fees you will owe if you do not file for an extension. 

See a list of documents to have on hand when you file.

How do I file a state return late?

If you do not file by the deadline, you can still file a state return late. There will most likely be some fees associated, but it is better to file than not file at all. Fill out the return for your state using TaxSlayer exactly as you would have under normal circumstances.

How do I know if my return was accepted?

Once you e-file your return, you should receive an email from the IRS within 48 hours that says whether your return was accepted or rejected. If your return was rejected, log back into your account, make any corrections, and resubmit it. If you file your late tax return by October 15th and it is rejected, you will have until October 20th to make any corrections.

Do I need to file taxes if I am supposed to get a refund?

Yes, you will need to file a tax return to get your refund. You will not be charged a penalty if you don’t file, but the IRS won’t send your money until they have received your return. If you’ve ever skipped a year, remember that you must file your return within three years to receive any refund or earned income tax credit. After three years, you will lose your refund.

If I didn’t file for an extension, do I owe a penalty?

If you do not file for an extension, you will likely owe a fee (unless you are expecting a refund). The fee for late filing is usually 5% of the tax owed for each month, up to 25%. You will also owe interest on your late payments, at a rate of one-half percent (0.5%) per month, up to 25% of the unpaid tax balance. 

How do I pay my taxes and/or penalties?

There are several payment options when filing your taxes. Pay via credit card, debit card, or have the funds directly withdrawn from your account. Most IRS offices will even accept cash. If you need a grace period, there is a penalty relief of six months for taxpayers with a certain income. Read more about the plans here.

Are there payment plans for late filers?

Yes. The IRS offers three payment plans: one short-term and two long-term. The short-term plan is less than 120 days. There is no set-up fee, but charges may apply if you pay by card. Both of the long-term plans are for periods longer than 120 days. One plan is for direct debit, and the other is for any other electronic payment, check, or money order. Learn more

What happens if I don’t file my taxes?

If you choose not to pay taxes by the deadline, the IRS will continue to fine you and charge you interest until the full amount is paid. In many cases, the IRS will calculate your amount due based on a substitute return. This return will be calculated based on information they receive from other sources and usually will not come out as favorable as your self-prepared return. Once the IRS establishes an amount due, they can place a levy on your wages or bank account or a lien on your property. If things progress, they can send you to jail. 

Filing an extension and paying your taxes by the deadline will always be better than putting it off.

The information in this article is up to date through tax year 2021 (taxes filed in 2022). 

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