Didn’t file taxes? Not a problem for these four groups of people
The tax deadline separates the procrastinators from the early birds, the delayers from the doers. Of those who file by the April deadline, 1 in 3 file in April, but that still leaves nearly 20 million who are not filing taxes until after April. Some of those may have just missed the deadline, but others actually get a few extra weeks or even months to file.
“If you don’t fall into one of these groups that have an extension of time to file, you need to file your return as soon as possible,” said Catherine Martin, senior tax research analyst at The Tax Institute at H&R Block. “If you didn’t file taxes, your monthly penalty is 5 percent of your taxes due, maxing out at 25 percent after five months. Now that the filing deadline has passed, the only way to prevent further penalty is to file your tax return.”
Extension filers have until Oct. 15 to file a tax return
Anyone who filed an extension by the April deadline has six months to file their tax return. An extension gives them until Oct. 15 to file their return, but not to pay their taxes, which were due on April 18.
“If you filed an extension but didn’t pay your taxes due, you’re going to face a monthly penalty of 0.5 percent of your unpaid tax liability. Even though it’s one-tenth of the monthly failure-to-file penalty, it can still add up to 25 percent to your ultimate bill if you let it add up long enough,” said Martin. “If you can’t pay in full, there are payment options you can take advantage of to minimize your penalties.”
Some military service members have until June 15 to file a tax return
Military service members on a tour of duty outside the United States or Puerto Rico get an automatic two-month extension of time to file. Their deadline is June 15, unless they filed an extension to move the deadline to Oct. 15.
If they are serving in a combat zone, the deadline moves again. In that case, the extension to file tax returns and even pay taxes due is 180 days after either the last day they serve in a combat zone or the last day of any continuous qualified hospitalization for an injury from service in a combat zone, whichever is later. Recognized combat zones are in the Afghanistan, Kosovo and Arabian Peninsula areas.
Expats have until June 15 to file a tax return
United States’ citizens and residents living abroad have until June 15 to file their tax returns. For some, what’s more surprising than that the deadline to file is in June is that there is a requirement to file.
“Many expats don’t realize they are required to file a tax return at all, particularly if they did not earn income in the U.S.,” said Martin. “Although they must file, they may be able to take advantage of important tax benefits like the foreign earned income exclusion to minimize their tax bill.”
Because their deadline is June 15, they also have until then to file an extension to push the deadline back to Oct. 15.
Certain disaster victims have until April 30 or June 29 to file a tax return
Tax relief after a disaster can mean a postponed tax deadline. For victims of the California wildfires, flooding, mudflows and debris flows that took place starting December 4, 2017, the tax deadline has moved to April 30. Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have until June 29 to file their tax returns.
“Victims of these disasters may have other tax relief options. They could be eligible for accelerated casualty loss deductions, postponed deadlines and waived fees for tax transcripts or copies of tax returns from the IRS,” said Martin. “They should talk to a qualified tax professional who can help them get all the tax relief available to them.”
States have their own extended deadlines
Some states will mirror the IRS tax filing deadlines and extension requirements, while others have different deadlines or requirements for extensions. Taxpayers can consult their state’s department of revenue for information on their specific filing deadlines or talk to a knowledgeable tax professional.
Taxpayers should consult a tax professional about their own situations, whether they are eligible for an extended tax deadline or other disaster relief, and if not, about ways to avoid or minimize common tax penalties.