The calendar shows April 15, and you haven't even started on your federal tax return? Chances are, you don't need to fret. • If you're due a refund — and about three-fourths of filers get refunds — April 15 isn't much of a deadline at all. • The Internal Revenue Service doesn't like to talk about it, but penalties for filing late federal tax returns apply only to people who owe money. The penalty is a percentage of what you owe. If you owe nothing, 5 percent of nothing is … nothing!
If you need more time
File Form 4868 to get a six-month extension, no explanation necessary. You won't be alone. The IRS expects 12 million extension requests.
Penalties for not filing
The failure-to-file penalty is generally 5 percent of your unpaid tax bill for every month, or part of a month, you are late. It kicks in on April 16. In general, the maximum penalty is 25 percent of your original tax bill. There also is a penalty for failing to pay your tax bill, separate from the penalty for failing to file at all, but it's much smaller.
• The IRS expected to receive about 35 million returns in the last week before the deadline.
• Through April 4, 99.9 million returns had been filed, with 78.8 million receiving refunds totaling $220 billion.
• 90 percent of returns have been filed electronically.
•Last year, the feds collected $2.8 trillion in taxes and fees.
Who pays federal taxes
• Individual income tax: 47 percent.
• Payroll taxes: 32 percent.
• Corporate income tax: 10 percent.
• Excise taxes: 3 percent.
• Unemployment insurance: 2 percent
• Estate and gift taxes: 1 percent.
• Customs duties: 1 percent.
• Miscellaneous: 4 percent.
Sources: Associated Press, IRS, AP-GfK Poll conducted March 20-24, Treasury report on budget year 2013