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IRS: Will I lose my refund if I missed the filing deadline?

What happens if you file your taxes late?

1040 tax form

You may need to act right away to avoid penalties.


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What if I only file a day late?

There are no penalties if you miss the deadline but are due  a refund. The government will hold onto your money interest free. You actually have three years from the filing deadline to finish your return and get your refund. Read more about it here.

You may be thinking that it’s already late, so waiting a few more weeks couldn’t hurt. However, that’s not the case. Try to file the next day or as soon as possible because the earlier the better.

If your annual income is $73,000 or less you can file your tax return online using IRS free file. If your annual income is greater than $73,000, you can still file online but it may be more complicated. You’ll likely need some tax preparation experience.

If you file late and owe, prepare for penalties and interest

Paying late has consequences. There is a 5% penalty on the total amount you owe each month for each month you haven’t paid.

To the IRS, a month is not 30 days. Even if you file just one day late, you’ll be charged the full 5% penalty. In addition to the penalty, you’ll also have to pay interest.

Waiting 60 days or more to file complicates things further and makes it more expensive for you.

If you can’t pay the full amount due when you file, pay what you can and look into starting a payment plan with the IRS.


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