Forgot to file tax returns. Now what?
October 26, 2009 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Forgot to file tax returns. Now what?

I filed extensions back in April to get an extra six months to file. (I have to file in two states and one federal return.)

I guess I expected to receive something back, but never did. I got lazy and here I am, a little more than six months later and I haven't filed.

I did do the taxes and get an estimate on what I owed and sent that payment to avoid interest, etc. But there were some forms and things I needed at the time which is why I filed for extensions.

What's going to happen now? Should I just send them in late and hope for the best? Or is there something specific I should be doing?

I haven't heard anything from the IRS about it...
posted by doomtop to Law & Government (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just file them late. Nothing specific. In my experience, as long as you don't owe money, the IRS doesn't care.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:34 AM on October 26, 2009

Yeah, I was many years late for awhile, since I'm such an excellent procrastinator.

File what you can, when you can. If they want money, they'll send letters, more letters, registered letters, and eventually goons. Nothing to worry about when you're only a few months late. I think it takes five or six years to even get close to goon-level.
posted by rokusan at 9:48 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just file your taxes late. You may have to pay a penalty, plus interest on any taxes you have owed. No big deal.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:28 AM on October 26, 2009

It's in your best interest to file your return as soon as you can. The IRS will assess a failure-to-file penalty of 5% of the net tax due for each month or part of a month that the return is late, up to a maximum penalty of 25%. A fraction of a month - even one day - will be counted as a full month. So if you file anytime between now and Nov. 15, you will only be charged the FTF penalty for one month. If you file on Nov. 16, you'll be charged an additional 5% penalty. See page 19 of IRS Publication 17 (PDF) for more info.

If you wait more than 60 days after the Oct. 15 due date to file, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100% of the unpaid tax. Also, interest will accrue on the failure-to-file penalty from the due date of the return until the date you actually pay the penalty.

If you can show reasonable cause for not filing on time (e.g., serious illness), you won't have to pay the penalty.

A quick summary can be found here.
posted by velvet winter at 11:32 AM on October 26, 2009

If there is no tax due then there is no penalty for late filing. As long as they already have the *MONEY*, then you can be tardy with filing the return.
posted by de void at 12:35 PM on October 26, 2009

Yeah - I get an automatic extension every year due to the fact that I file from outside of the US (you have to be physically living outside the US on April 15). Due to some pretty extreme travel conditions (I've worked in about a dozen 3rd-world countries in Africa and Latin America this year), I still haven't filed my taxes, but I've structured my with-holdings, each year since college, such that I'll be receiving a small (but comfortable enough amount of a cushion - about $800 to 1,000 US) return from both my Federal and State taxes.

So, the state and feds get to hang on to my cash for a little longer, and I lose the interest I would have made on it should I have had it in my accounts, but I can pretty much file whenever I want.

You can pretty much bank on the fact that the IRS is not going to come knocking down your door when they are sitting on money they owe you.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:32 AM on October 27, 2009

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