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What happens if you missed the deadline to file your taxes?

Even if you missed the April 15 deadline to file your federal income taxes, there are ways to get back on track.
What happens if I missed the deadline to file my taxes?
Posted at 8:52 AM, Apr 16, 2024

The deadline to file federal income tax returns has come and gone. But if you missed the April 15 deadline, there are still some options available to get them filed and mitigate any potential penalties.

Stay calm and act quickly

Missing the tax day deadline isn't the end of the world. For some, there is no penalty for filing a late return — but only if you know you'll be getting a refund this year. If you didn't file in time and owe taxes, that's when penalties and interest come into play.

If you think you may owe, then it's important to file as soon as possible. You can get an accurate estimate of whether you owe by quickly looking over last year's return and seeing if anything changed. 

If not, and you owed, then you probably do again this year. But the longer you delay, the more penalties and interest you may incur.

The worst of those is the failure-to-file penalty. It's typically 5% of the total amount you owe each month your tax return is late, up to 25%. But if your return is more than 60 days late, then the minimum penalty spikes to $435 — unless your balance due is less than that amount.

Fortunately, the IRS provides electronic tax filing options that can streamline the process and get your return processed as quickly as possible. 

SEE MORE: IRS launches new tax filing pilot program in 12 states

Should I file an extension?

If you know you'll be getting a refund this year and just need more time to gather your tax documents, then filing  an extension is probably your best option. Requesting an extension with the IRS is rather simple and will give you an extra six months to get your return filed.

You can request an extension by filing Form 4868 through a tax professional, tax software or by using But again, it's important to remember that it's not an extension to pay any taxes you owe.

What if I owe and still need more time to pay?

If you know you have a tax balance that's due and still need more time to pay, there's no need to panic. But you should still pay as much of the amount due as you can to reduce the overall amount subject to penalties and interest charges.

The IRS will also work with you if you can't cover the full amount owed. Most people can apply for a payment plan, which will still charge you interest, but it's much less than if you don't pay at all. 

The IRS offers a short-term payment plan that allows you to pay off the balance in 180 days or less, plus accrued interest and penalties. Or you can apply for a long-term payment plan — also called an installment agreement — which gives you more than 180 days to settle your tax bill, but comes with higher fees and penalties.

SEE MORE: It's time to spring-clean your finances after tax season

While missing the tax deadline can be stressful, taking prompt action is an important first step to avoid making the situation worse. Remember to just stay organized, utilize the resources the IRS has available, and seek professional assistance if you need more help navigating through the process effectively.

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