I had a call today from someone wondering about the tax deadline — is it really too late to file? He was happy to hear that even though the official deadlines are past, he can still file his tax return. In fact, for those of us who are required to file (that includes most people who work), we still must file a return.
Will there be a penalty for filing late? It depends.
- If you have a refund coming, there is no penalty for filing late. That’s great news for many people. In fact, you are allowed (and encouraged) to file your tax return and claim your refund up to three years past the filing deadline. That means that now, in May of 2016, you can still file and get your refund for 2015, 2014, and 2013. If there is an earlier year you did not file, you can (and should) still file a return, but you will not receive your refund.
- If you owe the IRS, you may owe a penalty for filing late, and also for paying late. You will also usually be charged interest. For this reason, people who expect to owe a payment upon completion of their tax return should file an extension and send a payment at least equal to what they expect to owe before the April tax-filing deadline. Taking these two steps means that: a) they will not be paying their taxes late, so no penalty or interest there; and b) the extension gives them several more months to submit their return with no late penalty.