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Is April 15 the Last Day to File Taxes? What happens if the deadline is missed?

April 15 the Last Day to File Taxes

Table of Contents:

  • Is April 15 the Last Day to File Taxes?

  • The Deadline

  • The Extensions and Exceptions

  • Penalties for Procrastination

  • Preventing Penalties

  • Refunds and Returns

  • Payment Options and Assistance

  • Filing for Free

  • Conclusion

Is April 15 the Last Day to File Taxes?

As the tax season crescendos, many taxpayers are on edge, wondering: Is April 15 truly the final day to file taxes? The answer, in most cases, is a resounding yes. However, the intricacies of tax deadlines warrant a closer look.

The Deadline

April 15 has long been earmarked as Tax Day in the United States, marking the deadline for most individuals to submit their federal income tax returns. Yet, if April 15 falls on a weekend or a holiday, the deadline naturally shifts to the next business day. For instance, if April 15 lands on a Saturday, the new deadline would be Monday, April 17.

As the tax season draws to a close, taxpayers across the country are racing to meet the April 15 deadline for filing federal income tax returns. However, for residents of Maine and Massachusetts, there's a slight reprieve, with their deadline extended to April 17. It's crucial to file by these dates to avoid penalties and interest.

The Extensions and Exceptions

If you find yourself unable to file your tax return by April 15, all is not lost. You have the option to request an extension, granting you an additional six months to file, pushing the new deadline to October 15.

However, it's crucial to note that this extension pertains only to filing your return and not to paying any taxes owed. To sidestep penalties and late fees, taxpayers who owe should aim to pay either their entire tax bill or at least a portion of it by the April 15 deadline.

Automatic extensions are available for taxpayers impacted by natural disasters, providing additional time to file. However, it's important to note that an extension to file does not translate to an extension to pay. Certified financial planner Sean Lovison cautions that taxes must still be paid by the deadline to avoid penalties.

Penalties for Procrastination

Failure to file your tax return or request an extension by April 15 can lead to a dreaded failure-to-file penalty, amounting to 5% of your unpaid taxes per month or partial month, capped at 25% of your balance due.

The late-payment penalty stands at 0.5% per month or partial month, with a maximum fee of 25% of unpaid taxes. Interest is also charged based on current rates.

Preventing Penalties:

  • File or Request an Extension: Ensure you file your tax return or request an extension by April 15.

  • Settle Taxes in Full: Pay your taxes in full by the deadline to avoid penalties and interest.

  • Partial Payment: If full payment is not feasible, file your return and pay as much as you can to minimize penalties and interest.

Refunds and Returns

The IRS reports that two-thirds of taxpayers filing by the deadline are owed a refund. As of April 5, nearly 67 million refunds have been processed, with an average payment of $3,011, a 4.6% increase from last year. To expedite refunds, the IRS recommends filing electronically and selecting direct deposit, promising refunds in under 21 days.

70% returns received

Payment Options and Assistance

For those unable to pay their taxes in full by the deadline, the IRS offers payment plans, or "installment agreements," allowing taxpayers to pay their balance over time. It's important to explore these options to avoid penalties and interest.

Filing for Free

Taxpayers have several options to file federal taxes for free. Most Americans qualify for IRS Free File, which offers free guided tax prep software. Additionally, the IRS Direct File program, currently available in select states, offers free tax filing. These programs aim to make tax filing more accessible and efficient for taxpayers.

As the tax deadline approaches, it's essential to be aware of these deadlines, penalties, and available resources to ensure compliance with tax obligations and avoid unnecessary fees.

IRS Free File

The IRS Free File program offers free guided tax preparation software for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $79,000 or less. This program, available through several partners, aims to simplify the tax filing process and make it more accessible to a wider range of taxpayers.

IRS Direct File Pilot Program

In addition to IRS Free File, this tax season saw the launch of the IRS Direct File pilot program, offering free tax filing for eligible taxpayers in select states. The program, currently available in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming, aims to streamline the filing process and provide additional support to taxpayers.

Future of the Direct File Program

With approximately 100,000 successful filings through the Direct File program as of April 15, its future looks promising. According to a Treasury official, an announcement about the program's future is expected later this spring, with early results indicating encouraging outcomes.


As the tax deadline approaches, taxpayers are encouraged to explore their options for filing their taxes, including the IRS Free File program and the IRS Direct File pilot program. These programs aim to simplify the tax filing process, provide support to taxpayers, and ensure compliance with tax obligations.

By taking advantage of these opportunities, taxpayers can file their taxes efficiently, potentially maximize their refunds, and avoid penalties and interest.

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1. Can I still file my taxes after the deadline?

Yes, you can still file your taxes after the deadline. However, if you owe taxes, you may be subject to penalties and interest for late payment. It's best to file as soon as possible to minimize any additional fees.

2. What should I do if I can't pay my taxes by the deadline?

If you can't pay your taxes in full by the deadline, you should still file your tax return on time and pay as much as you can to reduce penalties and interest. You can also explore payment plan options with the IRS to pay your balance over time.


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