While the federal income tax-filing deadline has passed for most people, there are some taxpayers who have not yet filed their tax returns. The Internal Revenue Service encourages them to file now, even if they can’t pay to avoid potential penalties and interest.
There are many ways the IRS offers help to taxpayers facing this situation. The IRS offers these simple tips for handling some typical after-tax-day issues:
For those who didn’t file by the April deadline
There is no penalty for filing late if a refund is due. Penalties and interest only accrue on unfiled tax returns if taxes are not paid by April 15, the tax filing deadline this year in most states.
Anyone who did not file and owes tax should file a tax return as soon as they can and pay as much as possible to reduce penalties and interest
Some taxpayers may have extra time to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. Some disaster victims, military service members and eligible support personnel in combat zones, and U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico, have more time to file and pay what they owe.
For taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year, the IRS provided penalty relief. This means that the IRS is now waiving the estimated tax penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 80 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two.
What happens to those who wait to file?
Filing soon is especially important because the late-filing penalty and late-payment penalty on unpaid taxes adds up quickly under the law. Ordinarily, the failure-to-file penalty is 5 percent of the tax owed for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late; However, this penalty is reduced for any month where the failure to pay penalty also applies. The basic failure-to-pay penalty rate is generally 0.5 percent of unpaid tax owed for each month or part of a month.
But if a return is filed more than 60 days after the April due date, the minimum penalty is either $210 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax, whichever is less. This means that if the tax due is $210 or less, the penalty is equal to the tax amount due. If the tax due is more than $210, the penalty is at least $210.
In some instances, a taxpayer filing after the deadline may qualify for penalty relief. For those charged a penalty, they may contact the IRS and provide an explanation of why they were unable to file and/or pay by the due date.
Additionally, taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time often qualify for penalty relief. A taxpayer will usually qualify if they have filed and paid timely for the past three years and meet other requirements
Owe taxes or need to make a payment?
Taxpayers who owe taxes can view their balance, pay with IRS Direct Pay , by debit or credit card or apply online for a payment plan, including an installment agreement. Before accessing their tax account online, users must authenticate their identity through the Secure Access process. Several other electronic payment options are available on
IRS.gov/payments. They are secure and easy to use. Taxpayers paying electronically receive immediate confirmation when they submit their payment. Also, with Direct Pay and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), taxpayers can opt in to receive email notifications about their payments.
‘Where’s My Refund?’
Taxpayers who are due a tax refund can track it at “Where’s My Refund?,” available on IRS.gov, IRS2Go and by phone at 800-829-1954. To use this tool, taxpayers need the primary Social Security number on the tax return, the filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, etc.) and the expected refund amount. The tool updates once daily, usually overnight, so checking more frequently will not yield different results.
Because of the far-reaching tax changes that went into effect last year, the IRS urges all employees, including those with other sources of income, to perform a paycheck checkup. Doing so now will help avoid an unexpected year-end tax bill and possibly a penalty.
Need to fix an error on a tax return?
After filing their return, taxpayers may discover that they made an error or omitted something. Usually an amended return is not necessary if a taxpayer makes a math error or neglects to attach a required form or schedule. Normally the IRS will correct the math error and notify the taxpayer by mail. Similarly, the agency will send a letter requesting any missing forms or schedules. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant — Should I File an Amended Return? — to see if they should file an amended return or make other changes.
File an amended tax return to change the filing status or to correct income, deductions or credits shown on the originally-filed tax return. Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, must be filed by paper. Those expecting a refund from their original return should wait until after they receive it to file the amended return.
Then use “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool to track the status of an amended return. Normally, status updates are available starting three weeks after the amended return is filed. Allow up to 16 weeks for processing.
Taxpayers who discover an error after filing may need to amend their tax return. Taxpayers should file an amended return if there’s a change in filing status, income, deductions or credits.
The IRS may correct mathematical or clerical errors on a return. They also may accept returns without certain required forms or schedules. In these instances, there’s no need to file an amended return.
Taxpayers who need to amend should remember these simple tips:
- Use the Interactive Tax Assistant. The ITA titled Should I File an Amended Return? can help taxpayers determine if they should file an amended return to correct an error or make other changes to their original return.
- Wait to file for corrected refund for tax year 2018. Taxpayers who are due refunds from their original 2018 tax return should wait to get it before filing Form 1040X to claim an additional refund. Amended returns may take up to 16 weeks to process.
- File on paper. Taxpayers use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct their tax return. Taxpayers can’t file amended returns electronically. Taxpayers will mail Form 1040X to the address listed in the form’s instructions. However, taxpayers filing Form 1040X in response to an IRS notice, should mail it to the address shown on the notice.
- Amend to correct errors. Taxpayers should file an amended tax return to correct errors or make changes to an original tax return. For example, taxpayers should amend their return to change their filing status. They should also file a 1040X to correct their income, deductions and credits.
- Don’t amend for math errors. Taxpayers generally don’t need to file an amended return to correct math errors on their original return. The IRS will automatically correct these.
- Don’t amend for missing forms. Taxpayers also don’t need to file an amended return if they forgot to attach tax forms. The IRS will mail a request to the taxpayer for missing forms.
- File within three-year time limit. Taxpayers usually have three years from the date they filed the original tax return to file Form 1040X to claim a refund. Taxpayers can file it within two years from the date they paid the tax, if that date is later.
- Pay additional tax as soon as possible. Taxpayers who will owe tax should file Form 1040X and pay the tax immediately to avoid potential penalties and interest on the unpaid taxes. They should consider using IRS Direct Pay to pay any tax directly from a checking or savings account at no cost.