What Happens If You File Taxes a Day Late?

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Crap. You missed the April 15th deadline for filing your taxes. What happens if you send in your return today, a day late?

Better Late Than Never.

And, less late is better than more late. So, go ahead and file your return today, or as soon as you can. If you’re having trouble completing that return and make $57,000 or less per year, you can get free filing software.

No Punishment, If You’re Getting a Refund.

If the IRS owes you money, the only consequence of filing late is that you’ll get your refund late. In fact, you can still get a refund if you file up to three years late. (Please note, we DON’T recommend you try this!)

buried in debtBut If You Owe Taxes, You’ll Also Owe Penalty And Interest.

The magnitude depends on how much you owe Uncle Sam. The penalty for filing late is 5% of whatever you owe per month—a portion of a month counts as an entire month—that you’re late. So yes, one day late counts as an entire month. In addition, you’ll have to pay interest at a rate that varies with the market (though it’s probably lower than a typical credit card).

Will They Really Notice?

After all, they’re literally getting millions of tax returns this week. Will they really notice which ones are postmarked April 16th instead of 15th? All we can tell you is that they say that they’ll notice, and that they hang on to the envelope that your tax return arrives in for this very reason. So, don’t be surprised if you get an IRS bill for a relatively small sum because of your one day of lateness.

Next year, if you’re going to be late (even by a day!), make sure to file for an automatic extension.

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