Here's Exactly What To Do If You Need To File Your Taxes Late

Picture this: The birds are chirping, the sun is shining (hopefully), summer is within reach, and — oops! — you forgot to file your taxes, and they're due on Apr. 17. In case you're close to missing the deadline (or if you've missed it entirely) the deadline to file for tax year 2017 is Apr. 17, 2018. Whether you've already breezed by that date or you still have a few days to spare but know for a fact that you're not going to make it happen, the good news is that you're not totally out of luck... but you are going to need to know how to file late taxes.

At the risk of making you feel even worse about your tardiness, it's worth noting that the filing deadline for 2017 taxes is actually later than usual. According to the IRS, it was delayed because the customary last call date — Apr. 15 — falls on a Sunday in 2018. While taxpayers would usually get a single extra day to work on their paperwork, they get two extra days this time around because Emancipation Day (a Washington, D.C. holiday) falls on Monday, Apr. 16. As a result, this year's deadline is Apr. 17. If this still doesn't give you enough time to make filing happen, you will have an opportunity to get an extension until Oct. 15, 2018, per the IRS.

Here's what you need to know about how to get an extension and file late taxes:


Just because you technically have until Oct. 15 under the terms of the IRS's extension policy doesn't mean you should actually wait that long. TurboTax urges taxpayers to make time to file their taxes as soon as possible.

You Need To File For An Extension

Don't assume that an extension will automatically kick in just because you're an honest human that just happens to be running behind schedule. According to TurboTax, you stand to rack up fines if you don't complete the necessary steps to get an extension. Why pay more than you need to? Avoid these penalties by filing an extension directly through the IRS or via programs like TurboTax Easy Extension.

You Don't Get Extra Time To Pay If You Owe

"An extension of time to file your return does not mean an extension of time to pay your taxes," TurboTax warns. If you expect to owe money to the IRS, you need to have estimated the amount and paid it as part of your application extension. Assuming you do this, TurboTax notes that your extension should be granted automatically. Plus, if you haven't paid all of the tax you owe by Apr. 17, you'll owe a late payment penalty of 0.5 percent per month until you have paid up.

There's A Late Filing Penalty

If you don't actually take the time to file for your extension via the IRS or another tax prep service, you are subject to a late filing penalty of five percent of the unpaid tax per month — plus interest. This can rack up to as much as 25 percent of the amount due, per TurboTax.

You Can't Get Your Money Back Until You File

In case you needed further inducement to file your extension quickly and correctly, consider the fact that you can't get back any of the money you have coming to you until you've dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. The statue of limitations for the IRS to review your return — which is technically three years, according to The Balance — doesn't actually kick in until you file your return. Once you've secured your extension, file away!