Chief Tax Information Officer
Published on: May 04, 2021
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Life gets busy and things can be forgotten, even important things like filing federal income tax returns. There is a positive side: the federal government allows taxpayers up to three years to file their taxes and still receive a refund, if they are eligible for one. Our Tax Pros at Jackson Hewitt can help you if you’re in this situation.
For taxpayers who haven’t filed their 2017 tax returns, this is the last chance to claim the money they’re due before this year’s federal filing deadline, also known as Tax Day, which is May 17, 2021. It will be the last day to file 2017 taxes for a refund. You can also file returns for 2018 and 2019 for a refund at the same time.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, there are an estimated 1.3 million taxpayers who are owed a total of $1.3 billion in unclaimed refunds for tax year 2017. The IRS estimates that the average individual refund amount of more than half of the unfiled returns is greater than $865.
In addition to any money you might be owed from the 2017 tax year, you might qualify for a larger refundable tax credit – like the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Credit.
The federal filing deadline was extended in 2021 from April 15 to May 17, 2021. The deadline was changed this year because the IRS wanted to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities (like making sure eligible Americans received their third stimulus payment).
If you miss the tax filing deadline for the third year in a row, you forfeit any tax refund you may have been due and it becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.
If you file your 2017 taxes and you aren’t due a refund but owe the IRS, you will risk two common penalties: failure-to-file on time and failure-to-pay on time.
This is a penalty for not filing a return or filing an extension. It is generally 5% of the unpaid tax amount each month, and it caps out at 25%. Late filers are assessed the failure-to-file penalty for each month they did not file. Generally, a federal return that is due a refund does not get this penalty; however, some states do penalize late refund returns.
This penalty applies if at least 90% of a taxpayer’s expected taxes due are not paid by the due date of May 17. This penalty is much less costly; it starts at 0.5% or 1/ 2 a percent of unpaid taxes each month, and it also caps out at 25%. This penalty may be less costly on a monthly basis, but it can add up fast over time.
To file your taxes late, you’ll need the following documents:
If you are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099, or 5498, you can request copies from your employer, bank, or other payer. You can also get a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov using the Get Transcript Online tool.
About the Author
Mark Steber is Senior Vice President and Chief Tax Information Officer for Jackson Hewitt. With over 30 years of experience, he oversees tax service delivery, quality assurance and tax law adherence. Mark is Jackson Hewitt’s national spokesperson and liaison to the Internal Revenue Service and other government authorities. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), holds registrations in Alabama and Georgia, and is an expert on consumer income taxes including electronic tax and tax data protection.