What Happens if I Submit My Tax Return a Day Late?

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Normally, taxes are due on April 15. But this year, filers get an extra three days to get their returns to the IRS.

That’s because April 15 falls on a Saturday. And whenever that happens, the filing deadline is automatically bumped to the next business day. But since Monday, April 17 is Emancipation Day, a Washington, D.C. holiday, filers all over the country get another day to get their returns to the IRS and still be considered timely.

Ideally, at this point, your taxes have already been submitted and you’re simply sitting back and waiting for your refund to hit your checking account. But what if you’re still in the process of getting your taxes done, and you’re not sure you’ll finish by April 18?

You may be thinking that one extra day will help you finish the job. But submitting your tax return even one day late could have negative consequences.

Do you owe money, or are you owed money?

Whether you’ll be penalized financially for being late with your tax return — even if you’re only a day late — will hinge on if you’re due a refund or you underpaid your 2022 taxes and owe the IRS money. If you’re eligible for a refund, being a day late won’t matter.

In fact, technically, you won’t face penalties even if you’re 100 days late. You’ll be hurting yourself by virtue of delaying your tax refund, but the IRS won’t penalize you beyond that, since it’ll get to hang onto your money even longer.

It’s when you owe the IRS money that you need to be really careful about filing your taxes on time. That’s because being 24 hours late could cost you.

When you’re late with a tax return and you owe money, the IRS will impose a failure to file penalty on you. That penalty will amount to 5% of your unpaid tax bill for each month or partial month your return is late.

So in this regard, it doesn’t matter if you’re one day late or 29 days late with your tax return — you’ll still risk being penalized 5% of your unpaid tax bill if you submit your return late. And, of course, if you’re more than a month late, additional penalties will apply.

You should also know that if you’re late paying your actual tax bill, interest and penalties will accrue there, too. Granted, the interest you rack up by paying one day late may be minimal, but you’ll still face a penalty.

What to do if you need more time for your tax refund

Clearly, being just one day late with your taxes could have serious consequences. So if you’re worried you won’t get your tax return done by April 18, request an automatic six-month extension.

An extension won’t give you more time to pay your tax bill, so if you don’t pay in full by April 18, interest and penalties will start to accrue. But that way, you can at least avoid the failure to file penalty, which can be far more costly. And if you get an extension, it might allow you to finish your tax return in a calm, collected manner, thereby reducing the chances of you making a mistake.

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