If a person is required to file an income tax return, the government expects the filing to be on time. In 2020, extenuating circumstances led to an extension of the traditional filing date of April 15. The new due date became July 15, but not everyone filed. The Internal Revenue Service has a suggestion for Georgia residents and others who still did not file: File the return right away.
Filing for an extension was once a possibility. The extension would extend the filing date to October 15. However, it is now too late to file an extension. The longer someone waits to file a return, the more penalty and interest charges he or she will accrue.
If someone does not file an income tax return, he or she faces a failure-to-file penalty, a failure-to-pay-penalty and interest. An extension eliminates the failure-to-file penalty but not the failure-to-pay penalty nor the interest. If the extension arrived timely, and the taxpayer has until October 15 to file, he or she must still pay the tax owed by July 15. Penalty and interest will accrue on the unpaid balance.
The failure-to-file penalty is quite significant. The IRS charges 5% of the unpaid tax for each month, but this amount increases when the return is more than 60 days late. After 60 days, the taxpayer is assessed the lesser of $435 or 100% of the unpaid tax.
Taxpayers could pay part or all of their tax bill even before filing a return. They can do so via online credit/debit card payments or sending payment through the mail. In-person payments may be accepted at certain locations.
The IRS also offers payment plans. Persons interested in an installment agreement could apply for a short- or long-term payment arrangement. The amount owed may affect some aspects of the payment plan requests. Penalties and interest continue to accrue even with a payment arrangement.
Persons owed a refund must still file a return to claim the funds. There are no failure-to-file penalties when filing a return late when a refund is due.
Electronic filings usually get processed much faster than paper returns mailed to the IRS. Processing delays become possible when mailing in a hard-copy return. If someone does have questions about tax law, be it about penalties, interest, filing requirements and more, an attorney may be able to answer them.
Source: IRS.gov, “Additional Information on Payment Plans,” July 31, 2020