April 15 is the tax day deadline for most people. If you’re due a refund there’s no
penalty if you file a late tax return. But if you owe taxes and you fail to file and
pay on time, you’ll usually owe interest and penalties on the taxes you pay late.
Here are eight facts that you should know about these penalties.
1. If you file late and owe federal taxes, two penalties may apply. The first is a
failure-to-file penalty for late filing. The second is a failure-to-pay penalty for
2. The failure-to-file penalty is usually much more than the failure-to-pay
penalty. In most cases, it’s 10 times more, so if you can’t pay what you owe by the due date, you should still file your tax return on time and pay as much
as you can. You should try other options to pay, such as getting a loan or
paying by credit card. The IRS will work with you to help you resolve your
tax debt. Most people can set up a payment plan with the IRS using the
Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov.
3. The failure-to-file penalty is normally 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each
month or part of a month that a tax return is late. It will not exceed 25
percent of your unpaid taxes.
4. If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due
date, the minimum penalty for late filing is the smaller of $135 or 100
percent of the unpaid tax.
5. The failure-to-pay penalty is generally 0.5 percent per month of your unpaid
taxes. It applies for each month or part of a month your taxes remain unpaid
and starts accruing the day after taxes are due. It can build up to as much
as 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
6. If the 5 percent failure-to-file penalty and the 0.5 percent failure-to-pay
penalty both apply in any month, the maximum penalty amount charged for
that month is 5 percent.
7. If you requested an extension of time to file your income tax return by the
tax due date and paid at least 90 percent of the taxes you owe, you may not
face a failure-to-pay penalty. However, you must pay the remaining balance
by the extended due date. You will owe interest on any taxes you pay after
the April 15 due date.
8. You will not have to pay a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if you can
show reasonable cause for not filing or paying on time.
Additional IRS Resources:
Electronic Payment Options Home Page
Make a Payment – payment options
Tax Topic 653 – IRS Notices and Bills, Penalties and Interest Charges
Q&A about interest and penalties for filing and paying late
Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process
IRS Tax Map
IRS YouTube Videos:
Online Payment Agreement – English | Spanish | ASL
IRS Tax Payment Options – English | Spanish | ASL Owe Taxes But Can’t Pay? – English | Spanish | ASL
Online Payment Agreement – English | Spanish
IRS Tax Payment Options – English | Spanish