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What happens if you miss the October 15 tax extension deadline?

Calling all IRS procrastinators. Your week has arrived.

What happens if you miss the October 15 tax extension deadline?
[Photo: sutlafk/iStock]
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The tax recess is over: For the legions of us who, this spring, filed for an October 15 tax extension, the extension part ends soooooon. Taxes are due on Thursday.

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What’s happening?

Millions of people filed for extensions for their 2019 taxes, which are typically due on April 15. This year, the Internal Revenue Service offered a special July 15 deadline, but many people still chose to punt to an October 15 extension. Which is here.

What happens if I miss the deadline?

Really, don’t. The IRS cares more about filing than paying, and late filing fees are steep: Typically 5% of the unpaid taxes due, up to 25%, and calculated at the beginning of each late month. (So if you file 32 days late, you’ll pay two months’ worth of penalties.) Voice of experience here: One time my tax guy failed to file my taxes, and I received a ginormous IRS bill six months later.

What’s the penalty if I file but don’t pay?

Typically 0.5% of unpaid taxes per month, but if you set up a payment plan with the IRS, it is 0.25% per month. So whatever you do, file on time, and pay when you can.

I’m going to ignore this advice and file in 2+ months.

Don’t do that. Filings that are more than 60 days late are subject to a $435 fine. Pro tip: The IRS just wants you to stay in touch, so file the forms and call them to adjust payment plans, and everything will be fine. Don’t launch into panicked procrastinatory silence.

Does that mean that I need to pay my taxes by October 15 if I owe money?

Noooooooo. Payment was actually due on July 15, so if you haven’t paid yet, look forward to fees and interest. The IRS suggests that you pay as much as you can when you file your return and then set up a payment plan.

Do stimulus payments come into play here?

If you don’t typically file and you’re among the 9 million who, as of last month, had not yet claimed their stimulus payment, you might need to file to get that payment. You have until November 21 to do so and get your $1,200 check.