Late Filing, Payment Penalties

2020 Tax Returns due on April 15, 2021. Start and eFileIT! Even if you owe Taxes eFile or File Something Even if You can't Pay Anything! You will face lower potential IRS and or State Penalties!

What is my filing status?

Wondering whether or not you will face federal penalties for not filing your tax return by Tax Day? Review the information below:

  • When penalties apply: If you owe taxes and do not file a tax return or extension on time. You will incur different penalties (and owe the IRS interest) if you filed your return or extension on time, but do not pay the taxes you owe by the tax deadline.
  • When penalties generally don't apply: If you are expecting a refund and do not file a tax return on time.

Remember that the penalties for not e-filing or filing a tax return or a tax extension are higher than not paying taxes owed. For example, the penalty for not filing on time is 5%/month of the tax amount owed, plus interest, versus a late payment penalty of 0.5%/month, plus interest. Therefore, it's better to e-file or file your tax return or a tax extension and pay as much taxes as you can afford than not filing at all.

Prepare and eFile something even if you can't pay anything or just something. Why? Late Filing penalties are generally higher than late payment penalties. Prepare and eFile your 2020 Tax Return now.  You can use the eFile.com PENALTYuctor tool below to calculate any penalties or interest you might owe the IRS due to a missed deadline or late payment.

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Again, remember that the penalties for not efiling or filing a tax return or a tax extension are higher than not paying taxes owed. Therefore, it's better to e-File or file your tax return and pay as much taxes as you can afford than not filing at all.

The following sections below have details on IRS late filing and payment penalties. They also have due dates to file tax returns in order to claim tax refunds and what to do if you cannot pay the taxes you owe.

Penalty Myth
Penalty Truth

"Efiling or filing a tax extension postpones my tax payments and avoids any IRS penalties."

Even if you get an extension, you still have to pay at least 90% (80% for eligible 2019 returns) of your balance due to avoid a late tax payment penalty.

"The penalty for not filing a tax return or an extension by Tax Day is small. Not paying is more expensive."

Not efiling or filing a tax return or an extension is ten times more expensive than not paying your taxes on time! (5% vs. 0.5%)

"If it has been three years since the tax return due date, you don't have to file a tax return for that year anymore."

After three years, you can no longer claim a tax refund for that year (but you may still file a tax return). However, if you owe taxes, you'll need to file your return as soon as possible as well as owe back taxes and penalties.>late filing penalties for each month your return is not filed.

Can You Still File A Tax Return and Claim A Refund/Pay Taxes Owed?

Review the chart below for information on when and how to claim your tax refund. If you owe taxes, file your tax return and submit your tax payment as soon as possible to reduce late filing and payment fees and penalties. 

Tax Year
Tax Return Deadline
Claim Refund/File By
Instructions for Claiming Refund
2019
July 15, 2020
April 15, 2023

eFile from Jan. - Oct. 15, 2020

Prepare, eFile your 2019 Tax Return Now

2018
April 15, 2019
April 15, 2022
2017
April 18, 2018
April 18, 2021
2016
April 18, 2017
Expired

You can no longer claim a 2016 Tax Refund.

Prepare, file your 2016 Tax Return on paper.

2015
April 18, 2016
Expired

You can no longer claim a 2015 Tax Refund.

Prepare, file your 2015 Tax Return on paper.

2014
April 15, 2015
Expired

You can no longer claim a 2014 Tax Refund.

Prepare, file your 2014 Tax Return on paper.

2013
April 15, 2014
Expired

You can no longer claim a 2013 Tax Refund.

Prepare, file your 2013 Tax Return on paper.

2012
April 15, 2013
Expired

You can no longer claim a 2012 Tax Refund.

Prepare, file your 2012 Tax Return on paper.

2011
April 17, 2012
Expired

You can no longer claim a 2011 Tax Refund.

Prepare, file your 2011 Tax Return on paper.

2010
April 18, 2011
Expired

You can no longer claim a 2010 Tax Refund.

Prepare, file your 2011 Tax Return on paper.

What Is the Penalty for Filing a Tax Return Late?

If you file your 2019 Tax Return after the deadline, and you did not get an extension, then you will be assessed a penalty of 5% of your balance due per month or part of a month a return is filed late (for up to five months). The failure-to-file penalty amount will be reduced by the amount you owe for failure-to-pay penalty for any month that both penalties apply. If you file more than 60 days late, your minimum failure-to-file penalty will be 100% of your unpaid taxes or $210 (whichever is less).

For example, if you owe $100 in taxes for your 2019 Tax Return, your additional failure-to-file penalty would be $4.50 per month (reduced from $5.00 due to concurrent failure-to-pay penalty). However, if you filed your return more than 60 days late, your minimum failure-to-file penalty is the lesser of 100% of the tax you owe ($100) or $210.

What Is the Penalty for Paying Taxes Owed Late?

If you do not pay the full amount you owe by the tax deadline, even if you file an extension, you will be assessed a penalty of 0.5% of your balance due per month or part of a month after the deadline. The amount of your failure-to-pay penalty will not exceed 25% of your back taxes.

If you do not pay your full balance due, you will also owe interest on the unpaid amount. The interest rate is set quarterly by the federal government. The current 2020 interest rate for underpayment of taxes is 3%.

Will You Owe Late Filing and Payment Penalties?

Generally, you will owe penalties and interest if you owe taxes and you file and/or pay late. To find out if you may face IRS penalties for late filing and/or late payment, find the scenario below that applies to you:

1. You did NOT efile or file a federal tax return for Tax Year 2019 by July 15, 2020, but you expect a refund.

In general, you will not face penalties, but you must file a return to claim your refund. You will have 3 years or until April 15, 2023 from the original tax return filing deadline (extended to July 15, 2020 from April 15, 2020) to file a 2019 Tax Return and claim your tax refund. After April 15, 2023, you can no longer claim your 2019 refund and the money goes to the U.S. Treasury. Information about unclaimed tax refunds.

What Next? Prepare and efile a tax return through eFile.com as soon as possible and no later than October 15, 2020. After October 15, 2020, you will need to manually prepare and file your 2019 tax return via mail.

2. You DID efile or file a federal tax return on time, and you owe unpaid taxes.

You will probably have to pay the failure-to-pay penalty, which is 0.5% of your balance due for each month (or part of a month) in which your taxes go unpaid. The maximum amount of this penalty is 25% of your unpaid taxes.

What Next? Pay some or all of your taxes as soon as possible. If you cannot pay the full amount at one time, you may be able to enter into an installment agreement with the IRS.

Important: The IRS announced on March 20, 2020 that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will extend the 2019 Tax Return filing and tax payment deadline to July 15, 2020. This means that taxpayers have an additional 90 days from the original April 15, 2020 tax return filing and tax payment deadline to submit their tax returns and pay their taxes owed without any late filing and/or payment penalties or interest. If you missed the July 15 deadline, you still have until October 15, 2020 to prepare and e-file your 2019 Tax Return now.

3. You did NOT efile or file a federal tax return or an extension on time, and you owe unpaid taxes.

You will probably face two types of penalties: one for not filing or efiling a tax return or extension on time, and one for not paying your taxes on time.

The failure-to-file penalty is 5% of your balance due for every month (or part of a month) in which your taxes go unpaid. The amount you owe for this penalty will be reduced by the amount you owe for the failure-to-pay penalty. The maximum amount of this penalty is 25% of your unpaid taxes. If you file your tax return more than 60 days late, the minimum failure-to-file penalty will be 100% of your unpaid taxes or $210, whichever is smaller.

The failure-to-pay penalty is 0.5% of your balance due for each month (or part of a month) in which your taxes remain unpaid. This penalty will not be more than 25% of your unpaid taxes.

If both penalties apply to you during the same month, the failure-to-file penalty is reduced by 0.5% per month. The 25% cap applies to both penalties together.

What Next? Prepare and efile a tax return through eFile.com as soon as possible and no later than October 15, 2020. After October 15, 2020, you will need to prepare and file your 2019 return via mail. Also, pay some or all of your taxes as soon as possible. If you cannot pay the full amount now, you may be able to enter into a payment arrangement with the IRS. Other tax payment options.

Important: The IRS announced on March 20, 2020 that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will extend the 2019 Tax Return filing and tax payment deadline to July 15, 2020. This means that taxpayers have an additional 90 days from the original April 15, 2020 tax return filing and tax payment deadline to submit their tax returns and pay their taxes owed without any late filing and/or payment penalties or interest. If you missed the July 15 deadline, you still have until October 15, 2020 to prepare and e-file your 2019 Tax Return now.

4. You DID efile or file an IRS accepted extension on time, and you expect a tax refund or owe $0 in taxes.

You have until October 15, 2020 to efile a 2019 Tax Return. You will not owe any penalties, but you must file a tax return within 3 years of the original deadline in order to claim a tax refund (by April 15, 2023, for 2019 Tax Returns). If you file a return, and later realize you made an error on the return, the deadline for claiming any refund due is 3 years after the return was filed or 2 years after the tax was paid, whichever expires later.

What Next? Prepare and efile a 2019 Tax Return through eFile.com by October 15, 2020. You have until April 15, 2023 to paper file a 2019 Tax Return and still claim any refund you are owed.

5. You DID efile or file an IRS accepted extension on time, and you owe taxes, but you have not paid them.

If you pay at least 90% of your balance due when you get your federal extension, you will not be penalized for late payment. Otherwise, you will probably have to pay a failure-to-pay penalty of 0.5% of your balance due for each month (or part of a month) in which your taxes go unpaid. The maximum for this penalty is 25% of your unpaid taxes.

You must efile or file your 2019 Tax Return by the extended deadline of October 15, 2020, or you will begin to face the failure-to-file penalty, which is 5% of your balance due for every month (or part of a month) in which your taxes go unpaid. The amount you owe for this penalty will be reduced by the amount you owe for the failure-to-pay penalty, if you owe both of them in any month. The amount of the failure-to-file penalty will not exceed 25% of your balance due, but If you file your tax return more than 60 days after the extended deadline, the minimum failure-to-file penalty will be 100% of your unpaid taxes or $210, whichever is less.

What Next? Prepare and efile a 2019 Tax Return on eFile.com by October 15, 2020. Also, pay as much as you can as soon as possible. If you cannot pay the full balance now, you may be able to enter into an IRS installment tax payment plan.

Important: The IRS announced on March 20, 2020 that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will extend the 2019 Tax Return filing and tax payment deadline to July 15, 2020. This means that taxpayers have an additional 90 days from the original April 15, 2020 tax return filing and tax payment deadline to submit their tax returns and pay their taxes owed without any late filing and/or payment penalties or interest. If you missed the July 15 deadline, you still have until October 15, 2020 to prepare and e-file your 2019 Tax Return now.

6. You DID efile or file a tax return or tax extension, but it was rejected and you did NOT file again, AND you owe unpaid taxes.

This situation is the same as having filed no tax return at all, and you will likely face failure-to-file penalties and failure-to-pay penalties.

As you can see, not filing a tax return on time is more expensive than not paying taxes!

7. You have a reasonable cause for not filing your tax return or paying your taxes owed on time.

You generally will not have to pay a failure-to-file or a failure-to-pay penalty.

What If You Cannot Pay the Taxes or Penalties You Owe?

If you cannot pay at least 90% of the taxes you owe by the original tax deadline, you will probably owe penalties. How can you pay your tax bill when the balance due keeps adding up?

Solution 1: Find Alternate Methods to Pay

For example, if you use a credit card or a loan to pay your tax bill, the interest may be less than the IRS penalties you would face. Options to pay the taxes you owe now.

Solution 2: Apply For a Payment Agreement with the IRS

There are three options to arrange a payment plan with the IRS:

  1. get a short-term extension of time to pay,
  2. enter into an installment plan, OR
  3. make an offer-in-compromise.

More information about installment plans and other IRS payment options.

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