While taxes are one of the few certainties in life, you’re only human if you’ve ever looked at the calendar and realized Tax Day (April 18 for 2022) is just around the corner — and you’re nowhere near prepared.
But what happens if you file taxes a day late? Here's what to know.
It's better to file (and pay) late than not at all
You might be thinking, “If I’ve already missed the deadline, what’s a few more weeks?” But the sooner you submit your tax return, the better (we’ll get to why in a moment). So do your best to file the next day or soon thereafter.
If you earn $73,000 or less per year, you can file your return online using one of the IRS’ free federal tax filing options, which provides complimentary tax-preparation software. If you earn more than $73,000, you can still file online using the IRS’ free electronic forms, but you’ll need some tax-prep knowledge if you choose to go this route.
If you’re getting a refund, you won’t be penalized
If you’re expecting to get a refund, the good news is that the only consequence of submitting your return after the deadline is that you’ll get your refund late. While you should still file as soon as you can, you can technically claim your refund up to three years after the deadline. (Although we don't recommend waiting that long.)
If you owe taxes, you’ll pay a penalty and interest
Keep in mind paying late comes with repercussions. For every month that you file late, you’ll have to pay an additional 5 percent penalty on the total amount you owe. It’s important to note that a month doesn’t mean 30 days to the IRS — filing your return even one day late means you'll still be hit with the full 5 percent penalty. On top of that, you’ll also pay interest, which will only add to your fees. And if you file more than 60 days late, things become a bit more complex and costly — another reason to submit your return as soon as you can.
If you can’t pay the full amount you owe when you file, paying what you can and looking into payment plans with the IRS is better than paying nothing.
Will the IRS notice if you file late?
The IRS receives millions of tax returns at the last minute, so you may be wondering if they'll even notice that yours is a day late.
The real question you should be asking yourself is: Why risk it? Plus, if you mail in your return, the IRS can see the postmarked date on the envelope, so you could very well receive a bill for a small amount if you're a few days past due.
So if you’re going to be late (even by a day), make sure to file for an automatic extension. While you'll still have to fill out and file as much of your 1040 as you can (as well as pay your estimated taxes), you'll have until mid-October to finish the tax-filing process.
This publication is not intended as legal or tax advice. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.