I use an online tax site to prepare and file my taxes. I have completed my return in their system, but there are technical issues on the site which currently prevent me from e-filing my return. Of course there is one more day in which hopefully this would all get straightened out, but as there is nobody in the office now and presumably in the morning they are going to be swamped with people who can't file there is always the possibility things won't work out.

What should I do in this case? Is there any recourse I have against the site if I have been unable to file my taxes for over 24 hours due to their fault? I have already paid all the fees. I have a small refund due for federal, and a bit less small state amount due. (Both amounts are less than $100) I understand there are stiff penalties if you don't file on time and owe something.

Update: Here is what I have considered already:

  1. I could print out the return and mail it. In theory, one has to have their return postmarked by midnight April 15th (or is it 11:59:59p.m. since the new day starts at 12:00:00 a.m.?). However, in practice I would need to actually take it in person to the closest post office and either drop it off while they are still there and sure to process it by the end of the day, or wait in long line to ask them to hand cancel it to be 100% certain. Since I can't remember the last time I needed postage, I would need to go to the post office anyway to buy a stamp, and probably an envelope that it would fit in.

Also, as I have paid all the filing fees, I feel like this really shouldn't be necessary to go to all the trouble of printing (this would take at least an hour out of my day to get this all done).

  1. I could request an extension. The IRS web site states:

People who haven’t finished filling out their return can get an automatic six-month extension. The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time is through the Free File link on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension on Form 4868.

The pedant in me notes that I have finished filling out my return, I just am having trouble filing it. The actual page is here - presumably this will take a bit of time to go through the process, and I obviously can't use the site corresponding to my preparer since they are having site issues.

  • When is your state filing date? Some states don't require taxes to be filed on April 15th.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 12:08
  • @jpmc26 - OP getting a refund. Late filing is a moot point. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 13:12
  • @JoeTaxpayer "...and a bit less small state amount due." They're getting a refund from federal. They're paying the state. At least that's how I read it; they chose not to use the word refund for the state taxes. Maybe OP should clarify?
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 13:14
  • and i mis-read that. thx. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 13:15
  • 1
    Just wondering... What would have been the earliest date when you could have filed?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


If you are owed a refund, nobody cares when you file.

What you must do timely is pay. There is no extension to pay.

To be more precise, the penalty for late filing is a formula based on what you owe. If you owe $0, the penalty is $0. Sadly the penalty does not go into negative numbers, so they won't pay you if they owe you! So to that effect the 4868 as an extension is fairly superfluous. However, it is rather useful as a payment coupon since 4868 does not extend the deadline to pay.

After April 15, 2022, you forfeit a right to a refund.

So focus on sending a payment to the state timely! You don't need to file your state, just get 'em paid. Use your state's version of a Form 4868 for a coupon.

Postmark in the mail is good enough. Post offices no longer stay open until midnight on tax day, you have to get it in by normal close-of-business.

P.S. The railroads, who know a thing or two about Standard Time having invented it, take the viewpoint that 12:00:00 is ambiguous and midnight trains are in fact carded for 12:01 am.

Also remember that efile is not filing. It is consensual electronic data interchange in lieu of filing. IRS will cheerfully withdraw its consent if they don't like something about your figures. They can't do that if you paper file, unless the filing is obviously frivolous or incomplete.

  • 2
    I have seen that the advantage to filing 4868 if you think you are due a refund is that if it later turns out you are not the penalties are less because it is a late payment, not a failure to file. I haven't looked into it carefully. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 5:30

You must log in to answer this question.