Tax Day is coming up in less than two weeks, so don't wait any longer to file your taxes. If you miss the April 15 deadline, you could face hefty IRS fines.

This story is part Taxes 2024CNET's coverage of the best tax software, tax tips and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.

You have until midnight on the Tax Day deadline to electronically file an income tax return or have a paper return postmarked by April 15, otherwise your taxes will technically be late – unless you file a tax extension.

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For taxpayers who are certain they will receive a refund on their 2023 tax return, the only harm to missing the tax deadline is allowing the IRS to hold onto your money longer. However, if you owe taxes, you don't want to wait — penalties and interest can add up quickly.

Read on to learn more about what happens with late tax returns, including information about penalties, interest and payment plans. To learn more, here's the best software for filing your tax return and learn how to track your refund in your bank account once you've done so.

What if I miss the deadline and am waiting for a tax refund?

If you're expecting money back from the IRS with your 2023 tax return, there are no penalties for late filing. In truth, you are three years old to file your 2023 tax return before the IRS delivers your tax refund to the Treasury and your money is gone forever.

Your tax refund may be delayed due to the late filing, but you should still expect to receive your money in four to six weeks.

You could be making good use of the money the IRS owes you, and the longer you wait to file your taxes, the more you'll lose. Whether you use your tax refund to pay off credit card debt, start an emergency fund, make investments, or even enjoy a nice dinner or vacation (depending on the refund amount), you want your money as quickly as possible. Allowing the IRS to hold onto your tax refund any longer only deprives you of potential interest and purchasing power.

What if I miss the deadline and owe money on my taxes?

If you miss the tax deadline, don't request an extension, and owe taxes, there's a good chance you'll incur late-filing and late-payment penalties. You will also have to pay interest on the money owed until it is paid in full.

What are the fees and penalties for late filing taxes?

There are two basic penalties the IRS charges for filing taxes late when you owe money: one penalty for non-filing it is a fine for non-payment. Furthermore, you also pay interest about the amount you owe.

O penalty for non-filing it hurts more. It is generally 5% of the amount due for each month or part of a month that your return is late, with a maximum penalty of 25%. If your return is more than 60 days late, the minimum penalty is $435 or the balance of taxes owed, if less than that.

O fine for non-payment It will also cost money, but not as much—a great reason to request an extension on time, even if you can't afford anything. This penalty is generally calculated at 0.5% of any taxes owed that are not paid on time. The IRS charges the penalty again for each month or part of a month that your payment is late, with a maximum penalty of 25% in total.

The IRS also charges interest on back taxes. Determined by adding 3% to the federal short-term interest rate, the IRS interest rate is currently 7%. This rate is adjusted quarterly and interest is compounded daily.

Can I request an extension after the tax deadline?

Unfortunately not. Tax extensions give taxpayers an additional six months to file their tax returns, but they must be filed by the tax deadline. Taxpayers' return extensions must also include the estimated amount of money they owe using IRS Form 1040-ES. Online tax software can also quickly calculate your estimated taxes.

If you want to file a tax extension with the IRS, you'll need to do so by the April 15 deadline. You may submit an extension electronically by midnight that day (local time) or by mail IRS Form 4868as long as it is postmarked on April 15, 2024.

What if I request an extension within the deadline?

If you request a tax extension by the April 15 deadline, you will receive an extra six months. As long as you have paid an estimated amount close to what you owe, you will not be subject to fines or penalties if you file your return and pay any remaining tax liability by October 15, 2024.

If you don't pay enough with the tax extension, you may be subject to a late payment penalty. The IRS expects your estimated payment to be at least 90% of your total tax liability. The agency may charge a penalty of 0.5% per month on the amount of unpaid taxes if you paid less than that, so you should still complete your tax return and file it as soon as possible.

What if I am unable to pay the taxes due?

Owing taxes that you don't have the money to pay can be extremely stressful. However, you can take steps now that will ease your financial and psychological burdens.

Consider a IRS Payment Plan. If you can pay off your tax debt within 180 days, the IRS will allow you to request a short-term payment plan that costs nothing, although you will still accrue penalties and interest until your debt is paid off. Is easy sign up online or in a local IRS office.

If you need more than 180 days, you can request a long-term payment plan that costs $31 for automatic monthly bank payments via direct debit or $130 for non-direct debit payments. Low-income taxpayers – those with an adjusted gross income equal to or less than 250% of the federal poverty guidelines – you can waive the direct debit installment fee or pay $43 for the non-direct debit plan.

You may want to consider other loan options outside of the IRS. If your tax liability isn't too high, you can use a credit card with a 0% intro APR to pay your taxes, assuming you can pay off that debt before the intro period expires. For larger tax debts, you might consider a debt consolidation loan, although your rate may be higher than the 7% currently charged by the IRS.



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