What to do if you missed income tax filing deadline

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By Matthew Frankel

The April 18 tax deadline has come and gone, so hopefully everyone got their returns completed and filed on time. However, things happen, and some of you may have missed the deadline for one reason or another. If you haven’t been granted an extension and still haven’t filed your tax return, here’s what you need to know about the next steps to take.
If you’re owed a refund, relax
As you may imagine, the IRS isn’t in a big hurry to give you money. Therefore, if you’re owed a refund, there’s no need to worry. If you are due a refund, you actually have three years from the tax deadline to claim it. This means that as long as you file by April 18, 2019, you can still receive your tax refund, and you won’t be subject to any late-filing penalties. If you don’t file within three years, the U.S. Treasury simply keeps your refund as a “donation.”

Can’t pay? File anyway
The IRS assesses two types of penalties against tardy taxpayers: late payment and failure to file. And the latter is much worse.
If you simply owe the IRS money, you’ll pay interest on the outstanding balance. The rate can fluctuate over time, and it’s currently 3% per year. You’ll also face a late-payment penalty of 0.5% of your outstanding balance for each month your payment is late, up to a maximum of 25%. On the other hand, the failure-to-file penalty is much more severe — 5% of the outstanding balance for each month or partial month you’re late, up to the same 25% maximum.
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