What to Do If You Missed the Tax Deadline

What Do I Do If I Miss the Tax Deadline?

Key Points:

  • Pay the estimated tax amount immediately to sidestep penalties and interest. You can figure out the exact amount later.
  • Filing for an extension does not give you more time to pay, just more time to file. Payments are still due on April 15.
  • The deadline for filing after an extension is September 15 for S corporations and partnerships.
  • The deadline for filing after an extension for personal taxes is October 15.

The federal income tax deadline has passed, but some may not have filed their annual tax returns or paid their taxes yet. Don't worry — you can still file your taxes. Follow these steps to get your taxes done today and secure your refund.

Why File and Pay Now?

Some people might not file a tax return because their income was too low to require it. Generally, they won't face a penalty if they're due a refund. However, not filing means they might miss out on receiving their refund. And, if you owe taxes and didn't pay by the April 15 deadline, you will incur penalties and interest. (You can always check with the IRS whether you need to file a tax return.)

Filing for an Extension

If you knew you couldn’t meet the deadline, you should have submitted IRS Form 4868 to request an extension. This extension typically gives you until October 15 to file your return. If October 15 falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline moves to the next business day.

Penalties for Missing the Deadline

If you miss the April filing date or the extension deadline, the IRS may charge a failure-to-file penalty. This penalty is 5% of your unpaid taxes for each month or partial month your return is late, capped at 25% of the taxes owed. For instance, if you owe $10,000, the penalty is $500 per month, up to a maximum of $2,500.

Consequences of Missing the Tax Deadline

Aside from penalties and interest, the IRS may file a substitute for return (SFR) on your behalf. This means the IRS will use the income reported to them but won’t include any deductions or credits you might be eligible for, potentially increasing your tax bill.

Reducing Penalties by Paying What You Can

If you owe taxes, pay as much as you can as soon as possible to reduce penalties and interest. The failure-to-file penalty is 5% per month, while the failure-to-pay penalty is 0.5% per month. Both penalties cap at 25% of your unpaid taxes. In months when both penalties apply, the failure-to-file penalty is reduced by 0.5%.

Filing Late for a Refund

If you expect a refund, there’s no penalty for filing late. However, you must file within three years of the due date to claim your refund. Example: For the 2023 tax return, the deadline to claim your refund is April 15, 2027.

Obtaining Missing Tax Documents

If you’re missing tax documents from prior years, request them from your employer, bank, or other third parties. You can also use the IRS’s Get Transcript Online tool or create an IRS online account.

Free Filing Options After the Deadline

Most taxpayers can still file for free after the deadline using the IRS Free File Program, available until mid-October. This program is for those with an adjusted gross income of $79,000 or less. If your income exceeds this amount, use IRS Free File Fillable Forms for electronic filing with limited guidance.

What If You Can’t Pay Your Taxes?

If you can’t pay your taxes in full, consider these options:

  • Short-Term Payment Plans: Pay in full within 180 days without a setup fee. Interest and penalties will still accrue.
  • Monthly Installment Agreements: Pay in monthly increments. Online setup fees range from $31 to $225, depending on your income. You can apply for a payment plan online on the IRS website.
  • Temporary Delay in Collection: The IRS may temporarily delay collection if you can’t pay. You may need to complete Form 433-F and provide proof of your financial status.

Additional Tips

Even if your income is too low to require filing, you might still be eligible for a refund due to overpaid taxes or refundable credits like the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit. The only way to receive this money is by filing a tax return.

Filing promptly allows you to identify and correct any paycheck withholding issues, ensuring better tax management for the next year.

The military community can use MilTax, a free tax resource from the Department of Defense, to file federal and up to three state returns for free. So, if you are a member of the military community, it’s worth looking into.

Some taxpayers, such as disaster victims, those living overseas, certain military service members, and eligible support personnel in combat zones, may have extra time to file and pay. Contact us or the IRS to see if you qualify.

Frequently Asked Questions About Missing the Tax Deadline

What happens if I miss the tax deadline?

Missing the tax filing deadline can result in penalties. The late filing penalty is 5% of your unpaid taxes per month or partial month, up to a maximum of 25% of your balance. Additionally, the fee for failure to pay is 0.5% per month or partial month, with a maximum fee of 25% of your unpaid taxes. Interest will also accrue based on current rates.

What happens if I'm late filing taxes?

If you owe taxes and file late, you may incur a failure to file penalty, along with interest charges. The longer you delay, the higher these charges grow, potentially increasing your tax bill by 25% or more.

Can you e-file taxes after the deadline?

If you missed the April 15 deadline to e-file a tax return, or if you filed for an extension by that date, you can still e-file your taxes until October 15. After that, you will need to prepare and mail your return using paper forms.

Can I skip a year filing taxes?

The IRS expects us to file a federal tax return and pay taxes annually. There are no guidelines or allowances that permit skipping a year of filing taxes.

At what age can you stop filing taxes?

Tax obligations are not determined by age. If you are 65 or older, you must file a tax return if your gross income is $14,700 or higher. If you are married and filing jointly, and both spouses are 65 or older, the threshold is $28,700.

The Bottom Line

There’s no way around it if you want to avoid penalties. File and pay by the deadlines, pay what you can, or look into a payment plan with the IRS that serves your needs. This way, you can manage the impact of missing the tax deadline and set yourself up for a smoother tax season next year.

We Are Here to Help

If you need assistance filing and paying your taxes after the deadline, use our CPA contact form or email support@nguyencpas.com to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our advisors.

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