Tax Day Is Here. If You Haven’t Filed, Read This.

Tax Day is in only two days. With only two days until the May 17 tax deadline, the clock is ticking for you to file and pay your taxes for the 2020 tax year. And while many have filed their taxes in the extra month the IRS added to the usual April 15 date, we know plenty have yet to do the same.

This doesn’t come as any surprise to us, just as it shouldn’t to you. Each year, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers file and pay their taxes in the last few days before Tax Day. And for many reasons: scheduling issues, missing tax documents, you name it.

However, the effects of this kind of procrastination can range anywhere from forgettable to life-altering. Missing the tax deadline can enter you into a path that leads to all the worst outcomes the IRS has to offer, like spiraling tax debt, wage garnishments, tax liens, and more.

You don’t deserve any of these doomsday outcomes, and we’ve made it our mission to help you avoid them whenever possible. That’s why we’re here to give you some last-minute advice if you haven’t filed or paid your taxes yet, and what you must absolutely handle by Tax Day.

If You Haven’t Filed by Tax Day

Did you know that the IRS will slap you with penalties if you don’t file your taxes on time? It’s true. However, there’s a catch regarding filing late that you should make yourself aware of before the deadline. If you haven’t filed your taxes by now, you have three courses of action, two of which we recommend.

1. File for an Extension

Filing for a tax extension is your easiest way of avoiding tax penalties. The penalty for filing late sits at 5% of your unpaid tax due, and it will kick in the first day after Tax Day. So if you haven’t filed your tax return by May 18, 2021, the IRS may potentially add a 5% penalty to your tax bill? It will do so on June 18, July 18, and so on until it reaches 25% of your unpaid taxes.

Filing for an extension avoids this entirely. A tax extension will give you an additional 6 months to file your taxes, which is why we recommend it as a way of buying yourself a little extra time if you need it.

2. File Your Tax Return

For most taxpayers, the process of filing your taxes can take anywhere from an hour to a day. But that figure often includes pulling up old tax documents and locating receipts, time that can be avoided when you keep up with your documents and organization throughout the year.

Our point: The process of filing your taxes probably won’t take as long as you think. And getting it done now will get it off your plate for good. So given that Tax Day falls on a Monday, give yourself some freedom next week by spending a few hours this weekend filing your tax return. You’ll be glad you did.

3. File Only if You Owe

We don’t recommend this option, but we wanted to use it as a starting point to add some needed context to the failure-to-file penalty. This penalty—5% of your unpaid taxes for every month (or part of a month) you haven’t filed—only applies if you owe taxes. After all, 5% of $0 still comes out to $0.

Again, we don’t recommend not filing your taxes. Because failing to file your taxes results will delay your tax refund, and the IRS only holds onto your tax refund for so long. And if you aren’t certain that the IRS will owe you money, you’re taking a big risk by not filing. So file your tax return or file for an extension. Even if you think you won’t accrue a penalty.

If You Haven’t Paid by Tax Day

If you haven’t paid your tax bill by Tax Day, it’s time to take action. We’ll walk you through a couple of pieces of advice before the tax deadline comes and goes.

Know the Penalties

The failure-to-pay penalty the IRS applies sits at a low 0.5% for each month or part of a month that you haven’t paid your bill. The number will cap at a total of 25% of the remaining amount due. So if you owe $5000, your penalty on May 18 will only come out to $25.

However, this is even more reason to file your tax return or file for an extension. If you’re confident you’ll owe the IRS, then not filing your taxes will only add to your tax debt—and at a much higher rate. Think about it: 5% on a $5000 tax bill is $250. That really puts that $25 into perspective.

Pay What You Can

If you can’t foot the entire tax bill, pay what you can now. Some taxpayers make the mistake of thinking that paying the IRS is an all-or-nothing action. But it isn’t. If you can pay $2500 of that $5000 tax bill, you’ll automatically avoid any penalties on half of your original tax bill.

The next step: Contact the IRS (or us) to work out a payment plan for the rest. You’ll want to get your total tax bill paid as soon as you can, before more penalties tack on and interest swells your total much further. Interest compounds on a daily basis.

Get Help Before Tax Day

When you’re backed up against a wall with the tax filing deadline, you shouldn’t face it alone. The time crunch often contributes to mistakes and other tax filing errors that can trigger an audit. Instead, avoid the worst of both worlds. Enlist an expert tax team to help you tackle your tax bill before it transforms into uncontrollable tax debt.

While this may all feel overwhelming, you still have two days to file and pay your taxes. That’s more than enough time to file and to lay out a plan to arrange your payment. And if all else fails, we’re only a phone call away.

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