April 15 has come and gone, but if you didn’t file your tax bill, all is not lost, even if you think you will owe taxes. Take a deep breath and learn what you can do next to avoid serious consequences if you didn’t file your taxes by the April 15 deadline.
Get help if possible
First, no advice here is a good substitute for talking to a qualified tax professional about your situation. If you can afford to meet with one, do it, and be honest about the reasons that led you to avoid filing. They will make it their goal to help you set your situation straight.
Act now
Yes, the deadline has passed, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to file for an extension using IRS form 4868, “Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return” following all of the instructions now. Really — right NOW is the time to file this. Yes, it will be late, but you’re showing good faith and an that you are making an attempt to rectify your mistake.
The bad news here is that if you are expecting to owe taxes, you will be expected to include a payment with the paperwork. However, the form states that you can make a partial payment, but there will be penalties involved. The IRS will charge interest on what you haven’t paid, and you may be charged a fee in addition to the interest. Pay as much as you can so that you won’t owe as much down the road.
Lost paperwork
If you are still waiting on W-2s or 1099 or other forms to report your income, and you didn’t keep good records or have lost paperwork, do your best to estimate the amount you earned. Be as honest and thorough as possible so that you don’t come in too low or too high, either of which could raise red flags later on.
If you are filing the extension on paper, consider including a note explaining the reasons behind the late filing. It isn’t required, but it can’t hurt if you have some solid reasons, such as some hardship that resulted in a loss of paperwork, or a complicated work year with a lot of details like expenses, a heavy load of private contracting with a large number of sources, or some other reason that complicated your efforts.
State what efforts you are making, but be accountable for your actions. “I forgot” isn’t a good reason. “I don’t have the money right now” might be more forthright, but list the attempts you’ve made and outline your strategy to make good on the debt. Keep it short, professional, positive, and to the point.
Cash back with that?
If you didn’t file taxes but are expecting a refund, IRS agents are not likely to view your delinquency as an attempt at fraud, nor will they withhold your refund if you are late to file. You are also not alone. In a press release, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that almost $760 million in unclaimed taxes from 2010 are about to expire. “The window is quickly closing for people who are owed refunds from 2010 who haven’t filed a tax return. We encourage students, part-time workers and others who haven’t filed for 2010 to look into this before time runs out on April 15,” Koskinen said.
While you can claim a refund for up to three years, don’t wait: get the extension application in now, or go ahead and file late. Your tax return will be at the bottom of the pile, but you will have done what you needed to do.
Stop dreading it: just do it
No matter the reasons behind your decision to not file your taxes by April 15, the sooner you buckle down and do it, the better off you will be, and a weight will be lifted off of your shoulders. Face whatever fears, tears, or other reasons for resistance and just get it done. You will be surprised by how much better you feel, and much closer to feeling secure about your financial future.
Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    Understanding Taxes on Life Insurance Premiums

    Learn about the tax implications of life insurance premiums, including when they might be taxable and whether they are tax deductible.
  2. Taxes

    What IRS Form 990 Tells About a Nonprofit

    Want a picture of an organization's activities? This annual form, open to the public, sums up everything from salaries paid to missions accomplished.
  3. Taxes

    Top Reasons to File Separately When Married

    Most of the time, it makes sense for couples to file their taxes jointly. Except for these possible exceptions...
  4. Taxes

    What IRS Form 1023 Is Used For

    To be treated as a tax-exempt organization, start by filling out this form.
  5. Taxes

    Late with Your Taxes? Grab IRS Form 4868

    Fill out this form to get a few more months to file your tax return. But remember, April 15 is still the payment due date if you owe taxes.
  6. Taxes

    What IRS Form 8949 Is For

    Selling a painting or that lake property? Disposing of your fossil fuel stocks? You need to know about this IRS form.
  7. Economics

    The Problem With Today’s Headline Economic Data

    Headwinds have kept the U.S. growth more moderate than in the past–including leverage levels and an aging population—and the latest GDP revisions prove it.
  8. Professionals

    Holding Out for Capital Gains Could Be a Mistake

    Holding stocks for the sole purpose of avoiding short-term capital gains taxes may be a mistake, especially if all the signs say get out.
  9. Taxes

    What's Wrong with the American Tax System

    American's are highly taxed and we still run a deficit. We explain why.
  10. Professionals

    Advisors: Warn Clients About These Audit Triggers

    There are several factors that may increase the risk of an audit, especially with high-net-worth clients.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Duty Free

    Goods that international travelers can purchase without paying ...
  2. Tax Deductible Interest

    A borrowing expense that a taxpayer can claim on a federal or ...
  3. Deferred Tax Asset

    A deferred tax asset is an asset on a company's balance sheet ...
  4. Quid Pro Quo Contribution

    A charitable donation for which the donor receives something ...
  5. Readvanceable Mortgage

    A mortgage feature that allows the borrower to re-borrow the ...
  6. Buffett Rule

    A tax rule proposed in 2011, by President Barack Obama, stating ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Are dividends considered passive or ordinary income?

    Despite the fact that earning dividends requires no active participation on the part of the shareholder, they do not meet ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are spousal Social Security benefits taxable?

    Your spousal Social Security benefits may be taxable, depending on your total household income for the year. About one-third ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do you calculate penalties on an IRA or Roth IRA early withdrawal?

    With a few exceptions, early withdrawals from traditional or Roth IRAs generally incur a tax penalty equal to 10% of the ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Are credit card rewards taxable?

    Credit card rewards are taxable in the United States some of the time. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies credit ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are Social Security benefits taxable after age 62?

    Eligibility to collect Social Security benefits begins at age 62. Many seniors, to collect larger benefit amounts, wait until ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the best free online calculators for calculating my taxable income?

    Free online calculators for determining your taxable income are located at Bankrate.com, TaxACT.com and Moneychimp.com. Determining ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!