April 15 Came and Went: What Happens If You Miss the Tax Deadline?

Woman realizing she missed the tax deadline

The deadline for filing your taxes is an important one, but it’s easy enough to miss. Life gets away from us, and spring is usually a busy enough time of the year that even something as important as filing your taxes can end up being the furthest thing from your mind.

If you’ve missed the tax filing deadline for this year, the first thing you’ll notice is probably the sinking feeling in your stomach when you wake up the morning of April 16 and realize you’ve forgotten something—something very important. But don’t panic. A missed tax deadline might seem like the end of the world—but trust us, it isn’t. In this blog, we’ll look at what happens if you miss tax day and show you that it’s not the end of the world.

What Does Missing the Tax Filing Deadline Mean For You?

To start our overview of what happens if you miss the tax deadline, first, let’s look at the consequences of a missed tax deadline. And to put you at ease, let’s start by assuring you that you’re not going to go to jail or have a lien placed on your assets for one missed tax deadline.

The primary consequence of a missed tax deadline is a late payment penalty. If you owe the IRS any unpaid taxes this year, you’ll receive a failure-to-file penalty. This penalty is generally 5% of an unpaid tax for each month the return is late, up to a maximum of 25% of the unpaid tax. Then, the IRS charges interest on the unpaid balance, which includes the unpaid tax, penalty, and any interest already accrued. Comparatively, the failure-to-pay penalty is 0.5% of the unpaid tax per month, up to a maximum of 25%. Again, interest also accrues on the unpaid balance.

If you are due a tax refund from the IRS, you don’t have to worry about penalties since you aren’t delaying any owed payments. However, if you wait too long to file, you could end up missing the deadline for claiming your refund.

Since the failure-to-pay penalty and interest compound per month, the sooner you file your taxes after the deadline, the smaller your penalty will be—so it’s in your best interest to file quickly!

Can you do taxes after the deadline?

Yes, you can file your taxes even if you’ve missed the tax return deadline—and as we’ve discussed above, the sooner, the better! The sooner you file after a missed tax deadline, the smaller your penalties will be and the less interest you will have accrued. If you are due a tax refund, filing sooner means you can keep as much of the money the IRS owes you as possible.

You might not owe a penalty if you have experienced a hardship or reasonable cause that resulted in your late filing. Valid reasons include a fire or death in your immediate family. Contact the IRS to discuss your hardship and be prepared to provide documentation, such as hospital or court records. If you have a valid reason for a late filing, you can push back your tax deadline and avoid penalties and interest.

How to File Taxes After a Missed Tax Deadline

The main difference between filing your taxes on time and filing your taxes late is that late filers must file through the mail, not electronically. Go to the IRS website and print off a paper form, then complete and mail the form as soon as possible.

Other than having to file your taxes on paper instead of e-filing, not much about filing your taxes changes if you’ve missed the tax deadline.

What if you can’t afford to pay your entire tax bill?

Sometimes, people miss tax deadlines because they don’t have the funds to pay their tax bill in full. However, even if you can’t pay the entire bill, every bit helps—you want to pay as much as you are reasonably able to. If you can’t pay any of your tax bill, you should still file a return and notify the IRS. You can be eligible for various payment plans or even a temporary delay in collection.

If you can’t pay the total amount you owe the IRS, you can still negotiate with them and work out arrangements such as an Offer in Compromise or other irs installment plans that let you pay your back taxes in manageable amounts spread out over time.

What to Do If You Miss Tax Day

Now that you know what happens if you miss the tax deadline, let’s look at what you need to do next.

Realizing you’ve missed the tax return deadline can be frightening, but the consequences of a missed tax deadline are almost always less severe than you might fear—especially if you take action as soon as possible after the deadline.

So, in summation, let’s break down what to do if you miss the tax deadline into five easy steps:

  • Step 1: Don’t panic.
  • Step 2: Determine whether you owe taxes or are expecting a refund.
  • Step 3: File your taxes as soon as possible to minimize penalties. If you missed your deadline due to hardship, contact the IRS to arrange for an extension.
  • Step 4: Pay any owed taxes that you can. The more of your owed taxes you can pay, the less of the total amount will accrue interest.
  • Step 5: If you can’t pay in full, contact the IRS about setting up a short-term or long-term payment plan.

If you’ve missed the tax filing deadline, it’s easy to feel anxious, ashamed, or embarrassed. Don’t. A missed tax deadline can happen to anybody, and while missing tax day does have consequences, you have the power to minimize those consequences.

Talking to the IRS if you’ve missed the tax filing deadline due to hardship or can’t pay your taxes in full can be a daunting experience. Don’t worry about dealing with them on your own—instead, reach out to experienced tax attorneys for help.

The team at Wiggam Law can help you evaluate your options and negotiate payment plans so you can put your missed tax deadline behind you and get on with your life. Contact metro Atlanta’s top tax attorneys online or giving us a call at (404) 233-9800.