tax deadline

Miss the Tax Deadline? What to Do If You Forgot to File Your Taxes

If you owe Uncle Sam money, filing your tax return late (or never) can come with costly complications.

If you didn't file your 2019 federal tax return or request an extension by July 15, don't let that stop you from submitting your 1040 and paying your tax as soon as possible if you owe the IRS money. Acting quickly will help keep the penalties and interest you may owe from getting out of hand.

In addition to interest charged on the amount you owe, you could be facing separate penalties for both filing and paying late. The late-filing penalty is 5% of the tax due for each month (or part of a month) your return is late. If your return is more than 60 days late, the minimum penalty is $435 (for tax returns required to be filed in 2020) or the balance of the tax due on your return, whichever is smaller. The maximum penalty is 25%. The late-payment penalty is 0.5% of the unpaid balance for each month (or part of a month) the tax isn't paid. The rate jumps to 1% ten days after the IRS issues a final notice of intent to levy or seize property. It can be as high as 25% of the unpaid tax. As you can see, the longer you wait, the higher the penalties grow.

If you have a good explanation for missing the filing or payment deadline, you might be able to avoid the penalties (but not interest). What's a good reason? Think fire, natural disaster, serious illness and the like. A lack of funds, in and of itself, is not a sufficient reason for failing to file or pay on time. If you want to request a penalty waiver, attach a statement to your return fully explaining your reason for filing or paying late.

If you're confident you're due a refund, then there's no reason to worry. The IRS doesn't penalize taxpayers for filing a late return if they're due a refund.

And, finally, what about your state tax return? The due date for most state tax returns was July 15. However, two states – Hawaii (July 20) and Iowa (July 31) – give you more time to file. Check with the state tax agency where you live to learn more about state tax deadlines…and about penalties for missing them.

Most Popular

Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer
Coronavirus and Your Money

Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer

The IRS has an online tool that lets you track the status of your second stimulus check.
January 18, 2021
When Could We Get a Third Stimulus Check?
Coronavirus and Your Money

When Could We Get a Third Stimulus Check?

President Biden and others in Congress are pushing for a third-round of stimulus checks, but it might be a while before we get them.
January 20, 2021
Don’t Have a Pension? The SECURE Act Could Help
retirement planning

Don’t Have a Pension? The SECURE Act Could Help

If you’re worried about retirement, the SECURE Act has a lot to offer. It has several provisions to allow people to save more, for more years — and it…
January 22, 2021

Recommended

13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits
social security

13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits

You may have dreamed of a tax-free retirement, but if you live in these 13 states, your Social Security benefits are subject to a state tax. That's on…
January 24, 2021
President Biden's Tax Plans for the Next Few Years
Politics

President Biden's Tax Plans for the Next Few Years

With control of both the House and Senate in Democratic hands, President Biden will be able to get more of his tax agenda through Congress. Here's wha…
January 20, 2021
How to Handle an IRS Audit of Your Tax Return
tax returns

How to Handle an IRS Audit of Your Tax Return

Don't panic! Keys to success include being well prepared, establishing credibility right from the start, and keeping your wits about you.
January 15, 2021
When Can You File Your Taxes This Year?
tax filing

When Can You File Your Taxes This Year?

If you're an early bird when it comes to filing your tax return, you'll have to wait a little longer this year before the IRS will accept your return.
January 15, 2021