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Today – April 15th – is the income tax filing deadline in the U.S.

Here in Canada, we still have until the end of the month. Perhaps we get a little longer to figure things out because we pay more tax than our American friends? ;-)

Anyway, I'm curious about late tax filing in the U.S., and I'm sure a few others are too!

So, here are my questions about not filing a personal income tax return on time:

  • If you don't owe money, do you need to file on time? Do you even need to file at all?
  • If you do owe money and don't file on time, what are the penalties?
  • Are some individuals specifically permitted to file late? If so, why?
  • Is there a way to ask the IRS for an extension for special circumstances?
  • Are there any other consequences to filing late?
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  1. You do need to file if you want your refund. The IRS has a questionnaire to determine whether you need to file at all. (See the answer to question 4 about filing on time.)
  2. There is a failure to file penalty of 5% of the tax due per month or part of month the return is late, up to 25%. There is a failure to pay penalty of 0.5% of the tax due per month or part of month the return is late, and this can go up without limit. Interest accrues on the unpaid tax as well. (Source)
  3. Some individuals can file late, including those in active combat zones.
  4. No special circumstances necessary! Form 4868 gives you an extra six months to file. (This is not an extra six months to pay, though!) Just get the form in by the regular due date and it's good to go.
  5. It weighs mercilessly on your psyche. Also, if you're due a refund, the government holds onto it (interest-free, of course!) until you get the stupid things in.
  • I am astonished this Q/A pairing doesn't have more views and votes – Jeromy French Apr 15 at 23:40

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