Advertisement
  1. Business

Can't file (or pay) your taxes on time? You have options

If you don’t think you will be able to complete and file your taxes on time, request an extension. Filing an extension helps taxpayers avoid penalties for a late return, according to the IRS.  [Associated Press]
If you don’t think you will be able to complete and file your taxes on time, request an extension. Filing an extension helps taxpayers avoid penalties for a late return, according to the IRS. [Associated Press]
Published Apr. 15, 2019

Tax day is coming; but what if you can't file — or pay — your taxes on time?

The IRS said Friday that even with days to go until the deadline, about 50 million taxpayers have yet to file their tax returns. If you are among them, don't despair — there are options.

DON'T DELAY

If you don't think you will be able to complete and file your taxes on time, request an extension.

Filing an extension helps taxpayers avoid penalties for a late return, according to the IRS. You can seek an extension through the IRS website, your tax preparation professional or most tax preparation software companies.

While an extension provides more time to file, it does not provide more time to pay any taxes owed.

The deadline to file individual tax returns and pay taxes owed is April 15 for most taxpayers. Because of area holidays, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17.

SPECIAL CASES

Anyone can request an automatic tax-filing extension, but some people get extra time without asking, according to the IRS. Disaster victims, those serving in a combat zone and Americans living abroad automatically get more time to file.

Check the IRS website for specific dates but victims of certain federally declared disasters — such as last year's California wildfires, the Alaska earthquake or severe storms in several parts of the U.S. — are allowed to file later and avoid certain penalties. Military service members and eligible support personnel serving in a combat zone have at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file and pay. And U.S. citizens who live and work outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico have until June 17 to meet their tax obligation.

DON'T RUSH

While it's important to heed deadlines, it's also critical not to rush when you file your taxes.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that mistakes can happen when hurrying to file a tax return. Errors can mean longer processing times and possible tax refund delays.

The best way to avoid common mistakes is to file electronically. The IRS estimates that about 70% of taxpayers can file their tax return at no charge by using the IRS Free File software. It also has electronic versions of its forms online for those that do not qualify for Free File.

PAY UP, EVENTUALLY

If you owe money to the IRS but can't afford to pay it at the moment, there's no need to panic, says Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and tax expert at TurboTax.

Contact the IRS to ask for an installment agreement when you file your taxes. If you qualify, an installment agreement will allow you to set up a monthly payment plan to pay your federal tax debt off over 6 years. If you're able to pay off your balance within 120 days, the installment plan won't cost you any additional fees.

If you file an extension but you choose not to pay what you owe by the tax deadline, the IRS will charge you a failure-to-pay penalty and interest on the taxes you owe them.

Contact the IRS to discuss your payment options at 1-800-829-1040. The agency may be able to provide other forms of relief to help you settle your debts. In some cases, the agency may be able to waive penalties. However, the agency is unable to waive interest charges which accrue on unpaid tax bills.

Do not ignore the problem as failure to file or pay federal taxes can lead to serious and expensive consequences.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. This June 19, 2015, file photo, shows the Federal Communications Commission building in Washington. The Federal Communications Commission on Friday, is proposing about $200 million in fines combined for the four major U.S. phone companies for improperly disclosing customers' real-time location. Location data makes it possible to identify the whereabouts of nearly any phone in the U.S.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) [ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP]
  2. A new Publix in Pasco County will begin construction in August. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  3. Experts recommend employers outline policies about teleworking, travel and sick leave; monitor recommendations from the CDC and local health officials; and stock up on needed office supplies and other products that might be affected by a global manufacturing slowdown. [Times (2001)]
  4. Trader Peter Mazza works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) [CRAIG RUTTLE  |  AP]
  5. Windhaven Insurance is closing its office in the Anchor Plaza office park and laying off 61 Tampa employees. (Google street view) [Google street view]
  6. Trader Peter Tuchman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) [CRAIG RUTTLE  |  AP]
  7. The antebellum mansions of Charleston's East Battery are a highlight of the city's historic district. SUSAN C. HEGGER  |  St. Louis Post Dispatch (2004) [SUSAN C. HEGGER  |  KRT]
  8. MICHELE MILLER |  Times
The apartment-building boom along the State Road 54 and SR 56 corridor in southern Pasco County has sparked a public debate among Pasco commission members wondering how many is too many when it comes to multifamily housing. On Tuesday, commissioners indicated they will kill the transportation subsidy for new apartment complexes.
  9. The sub station takes center stage at the new West Shore Publix supermarket opening on Thursday. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  10. Tampa Park Apartments is on property between downtown and Ybor City, at East Scott Street and Nuccio Parkway. [Times (2018)]
  11. Hyde House in Hyde Park Village on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 in Tampa.  [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times]
  12. FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2019, file photo, Disney CEO Robert Iger arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker", in Los Angeles  The Walt Disney Co. has named Bob Chapek CEO, replacing Bob Iger, effective immediately, the company announced Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.  (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, FIle) [JORDAN STRAUSS  |  Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP]
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement