Tax Penalty Pages

IRS Late Penalties and Interest

When you owe taxes to the IRS, file your return and pay by April 15 or Tax Day in order to avoid late filing penalties, late payment penalty, and interest. When you do not owe taxes or are owed a tax refund, there are no penalties for filing late. See how to file a tax extension if you are not ready to file by Tax Day - this is not more time to pay, just more time to file. Instructions to e-file your extension for free on eFile.com are here.

IRS Interest
Rates, Percentages

The IRS charges underpayment interest if you don't pay due taxes, penalties, tax additions, or interest by the due date. This applies even if you file an extension as the extension only temporary extends the late filing penalty until the October 15 deadline. In order to avoid IRS penalties, balance your withholding with eFile.com. We offer four simple W-4 tools that help you fully create a W-4 to submit to your employer. When you balance your withholding, you can limit this so you are only owed a small refund and thus would not be subject to penalties if you filed late.

Additionally, if you have other income in addition to your W-2 income from employment, you can make estimated tax payments so you do not owe taxes when you file your return.

Interest on Late Taxes

Penalties and interest begin building up once the regular due date has passed, regardless of if you file an extension. In addition to any due taxes, the penalties and interest apply to:

  • Late filing: the failure to file penalty, sometimes called the delinquency penalty, applies when you do not file on time and generally starts at 4.5% of the taxes owed; including the late payment penalty below, this is 5%. The penalty is applied each month the tax is unpaid and increases monthly, not to exceed 25%.
  • Late payment: the failure to pay penalty or underpayment of tax applies when you do not pay on time and generally starts at 0.5% which is considerably lower than the late filing penalty. You may see only this penalty if you file an extension, but do not pay your due taxes with it.
  • Accuracy-related: if a return was submitted with inaccurate information, the IRS may adjust your return which could result in taxes owed. The IRS may send you a CP14 or other notice explaining the adjustment; this includes a due date if you owe taxes. If unpaid, penalties and interest will begin to apply.
  • You can avoid IRS interest if you pay the amount due by the "pay by" date.

You may also be able to remove or reduce a penalty if you can prove a reasonable cause as to why you filed or paid late. These can be first offense (this is the first time you missed a filing/payment deadline and you meet other criteria), general reasonable cause (disaster or disturbance to person or property, family death, etc.), and statutory exception (you live in a federal declared disaster area, etc.). You may have relied on incorrect written advice from the IRS, mailed a return on time but it had arrived and been processed late, or other reasonable cause. Regardless of the reason, the IRS provides the option to plead your case if you miss the deadline and owe taxes.

When both penalties are owed, they will increase over 5 months to a maximum of 25% or the original balance due, including interest. If the return filed was over 60 days late, then the minimum failure to file penalty is $435 or 100% of the due taxes, whichever is less.

The IRS generally applies interest to any tax penalties applied, varying based on the type of penalty. In most cases of individual returns, the interest begins applying once the filing date has passed. To pay your IRS penalty, you would pay the IRS the same way that you would pay a tax balance.

If you received a notice that you owe taxes or you filed your return and owe tax:

Pay IRS taxes online | Set up an IRS payment plan

When the IRS sends you a letter regarding an adjustment to your refund or taxes owed, they generally provide information to contact them and dispute the change. You may be able to reduce or eliminate the interest by following through if you believe the IRS made a mistake. You may also be able to mail IRS Form 843, Claim for Refund or Request for Abatement, in order to dispute interest or an IRS error. See how to contact the IRS.

Related: How to pay state taxes online.

IRS Interest Rates

In the table below, find the current IRS interest rates for individuals or noncorporate entities. For conciseness, the table includes the rates from 2011 - 2022. The rates apply to both overpayments and underpayments, meaning if you owe taxes or if the IRS owes you a refund. Generally, the interest rates fluctuate from 3% - 6%.

Effective Dates
Rate
Oct. 1, 2011 - March 31, 2016
3%
April 1, 2016 - March 31, 2018
4%
April 1, 2018 - Dec. 31, 2018
5%
Jan. 1, 2019 - June 30, 2019
6%
July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020
5%
July 1, 2020 - March 31, 2022
3%
April 1, 2022 - June 30, 2022
4%
July 1, 2022 - Sep. 30, 2022
5%
Oct. 1, 2022 - Dec. 31, 2022
6%

See more details on the current IRS interest rates, including interest rates as far back as 1975. This IRS release also has interest rates for corporations.

When the IRS Pays Interest

Did you know the IRS may owe you interest if they delay your tax refund beyond the normal timeframe? See details on IRS delays via "Where's My Refund?"

If you are owed a tax refund or you overpaid your taxes, the IRS states that they have 45 days to issue your refund before they begin owning your interest. If you file taxes and are owed a refund, regardless of if they are on time or late, the IRS begins this 45-day period on the day they receive it physically or electronically. Once the period has passed, the IRS will apply interest to your refund to be issued once they send the refund. When the payment is sent, the IRS stops accumulating interest.

This was especially prominent during 2021 and 2022 as the IRS saw extensive delays issuing 2020 and 2021 tax refunds. Many taxpayers who claimed a missing stimulus check on their return waited well over the typical 21-day period, some waiting up to a year. As such, they were paid interest on top of their tax refund. These delays are likely to continue into 2023 for taxpayers claiming 2022 Refunds, so many can expect to be paid interest upon receiving a late refund.

See more updates on delayed refunds and how to track your IRS refund; you can also track your state tax refund here. When you are owed a tax refund, you do not have to worry about late filing penalties or interest, but you must file your return within three years of its due date. Otherwise, your refund will expire: don't surrender money that is rightfully yours!

Note: If your refund is subject to offset or garnishment, your interest and refund will be used to pay this before being issued to you.

To avoid penalties, balance your W-4, stay on track with this tax return timeline, and use tax software to e-file your returns online each year. eFile.com offers online preparation and e-filing for up to 60% less than TurboTax® and H&R Block®. Use eFile.com to file your returns online: start for free and the platform will up or downgrade you if you qualify for a free or cheaper return.

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