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Filing your taxes

What to do if you missed the tax filing deadline

Jo Willetts, EA

Director, Tax Resources

Published on: June 13, 2023

If you missed the 2023 tax filing deadline, here are some practical steps and valuable information on how to make your way through the situation with the least amount of stress, penalties, and fees.

Missed the tax filing deadline?

We know life gets complicated. If you weren’t able to file your taxes by this year’s deadline, we can help to give a wide-lens snapshot into what the implications are and how you can get yourself back on track.

What were the dates to file for this year?

The last day to timely file taxes for the 2022 tax year was April 18, 2023. However, you could have filed an extension that would give you another six months, until October 16, 2023. Regardless of the extension on your forms, you still would need to pay your taxes or set up a payment plan by April 18.

One step at a time

First, take a deep breath. We know that tax time is stressful and sometimes life can make it difficult to do everything you need to do. The sooner and more quickly you can correct the situation, the better. The first step should be reaching out to a tax professional to get a full picture of what you’ll need to do to help avoid paying more penalties and fees.

In assessing the situation, gather all of the pertinent tax information that you’ll need. This may be W-2s for employees or 1099s for people who are independent contractors, self-employed, or have investment income. Any other forms related to childcare, health care coverage and other important documents will be necessary too. A Tax Pro can help you with finding all your necessary documents.

The sooner you file, the less you’ll owe in penalties

Sometimes it’s best to rip the Band-Aid off as quickly as possible. Taxpayers who may owe, but missed the deadline without requesting an extension, should file as soon as possible to limit penalties and interest.

If you owe and don’t file on time, the IRS imposes two forms of penalties. When there is a balance due, you are subject to the Failure to File penalty, which is normally 5% of your unpaid tax. This penalty won’t exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes.

Then there’s the Failure to Pay penalty, which is usually 0.5% of your unpaid tax. The IRS calculates the Failure to Pay Penalty based on how long your overdue taxes remain unpaid. Unpaid tax is the amount of taxes left after subtracting amounts paid through withholding, estimated tax payments and allowed refundable credits. The Failure to Pay penalty will not exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes. During the period when you owe both penalties, they are combined so they don’t exceed a total of 25% per month. Penalties are assessed every month, or partial month, until you file your return and pay your taxes.

And on top of these penalties, you’ll owe interest. Because of this, if you think you’ll owe, you should file your tax return as soon as possible and work out a payment plan if you’re unable to pay the lump sum. A tax professional will know how to get you through this with the least amount of stress.

An extension to file isn’t an extension to pay

It’s critical to note that an extension to file is not an extension to pay. An extension to file provides an additional six months with a new filing deadline of October 16. Penalties apply to taxes owed after April 18, and the IRS charges interest on tax and all penalties until you pay the balance in full.

Filing and paying as much as possible are crucial, because the late-filing and late-payment penalties add up quickly. The sooner you connect with a tax professional about your best options and file, the easier it will be in the long-term.

Payment plans

The IRS has many options, including payment plans. Even if you can't afford to immediately pay the full amount of taxes owed, you should still file a tax return to reduce possible late-filing penalties. The IRS offers a variety of options for taxpayers who owe the IRS but cannot afford to pay.  

Paying electronically

If you owe taxes, you can pay quickly and securely via your IRS Online Account, IRS Direct Pay, or you can apply online for a payment plan (including an installment agreement.)  

If you pay electronically, you’ll receive immediate confirmation when you submit their payment. With Direct Pay and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), you can receive email notifications about your payments. A Jackson Hewitt Tax Pro can help you set these up.

First-time penalty abatement

You may qualify for penalty relief if you have filed and paid timely for the past three years and meet other important requirements, including paying or arranging to pay any tax due. For more information, work with your tax professional who can guide you through the rules around first-time penalty abatement.

Frequently asked questions

Let us help you navigate tax complexities

If you’re looking for assistance with navigating the complex United States tax system, stay informed and stay on top of your taxes by locating one of our offices near you. Our Tax Pros are happy to answer any questions and concerns you may have about filing late and help you avoid filing late in the tax years to come.

About the Author

Jo Willetts, Director of Tax Resources at Jackson Hewitt, has more than 35 years of experience in the tax industry. As an Enrolled Agent, Jo has attained the highest level of certification for a tax professional. She began her career at Jackson Hewitt as a Tax Pro, working her way up to General Manager of a franchise store. In her current role, Jo provides expert knowledge company-wide to ensure that tax information distributed through all Jackson Hewitt channels is current and accurate.

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