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The IRS Charges Penalties for Tax Returns Filed Just a Day Late

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Apr. 12 2022, Published 2:22 a.m. ET

The IRS has set a deadline of April 18, 2022, for most taxpayers to file their tax returns (or request an extension) and pay any taxes owed. Tax day is usually April 15 of each year, but it was pushed back to his year because of Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. Also, the deadline for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts is April 19 because of Patriots’ Day in those states. But what happens if you file taxes a day late?

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The short answer is that you’ll likely face penalties—with interest—from the IRS. That’s why taxpayers who need more time to file their returns request an extension. That extension gives them more time to file their returns, but it doesn’t push back the deadline for paying any taxes owed, so the IRS recommends estimating and paying any taxes due by the regular deadline.

You’ll likely face a penalty if you owe tax and file your return even one day late

If you file your federal return even one day after the tax deadline and you owe tax, you will “usually” be hit with a penalty, according to H&R Block. In a help article about the failure-to-file penalty, the IRS says that it charges 5 percent of your unpaid taxes for each full or partial month that your tax return is late, up to 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.

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You’re also subject to the failure-to-pay penalty if you don’t pay the taxes you owe by the tax deadline, as the IRS explains in a separate article. That penalty is 0.5 percent of your unpaid taxes for each full or partial month that your tax payment is late, up to 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.

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And for months in which both penalties apply, the failure-to-file penalty will be reduced by the amount of the failure-to-pay penalty from that month. For example, you’ll be charged 4.5 percent of your unpaid tax for the failure-to-file penalty and 0.5 percent for the failure-to-pay penalty for a combined penalty of 5 percent.

The IRS says that it will send you a notice or letter if either penalty applies to you. And bear in mind that the agency says it charges interest on its penalties, adding to your total bill. That said, the IRS does offer penalty relief, for which you may qualify if you “made an effort to comply with the requirements of the law, but were unable to meet your tax obligations due to circumstances beyond your control.”

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If you're owed a federal tax refund, you won’t have to pay a penalty

According to TurboTax, one of the “great little secrets about the federal tax law” is that you won’t face a penalty for not filing your tax return by the deadline if you are owed a tax refund. (TurboTax does note, however, that the rules for state tax might be different.) H&R Block adds that you won’t pay a penalty on late tax returns if you’re serving in the military outside the country or if you’re living in a federally declared disaster area.

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