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Old 04-16-2019, 08:19 PM
Win Place Show is offline
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any penalty for filing taxes a week late due to sheer laziness? (link to Cecil question ca. 1996)


I went ahead and filed mine online late last night - I "owed" a few hundred bucks, so I hadn't been in any hurry to finalize my return, after having compiled my stuff back in February. So chalk it up to pure laziness / procrastination that I hadn't completed it until the last minute.

But all day long yesterday (at work, with friends at happy hour, etc) I was bombarded with "you need to get that shit done, you do know today's the 15th, right?").

I started putting together my SDMB question right then and there when I thought "what's to stop me from not finalizing this and not 'pushing the button' on it for another couple of days", without filing an extension?

I started doing a Google search a little bit ago, then added straightdope to my search string, and came across this Cecil Q&A albeit from 1996:

https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-one-day-late/

Even 23 years later, with how far we've come technology-wise, do you reckon that's still true? That if you owe - say, $500 for rounding purposes - that even if you file on the 18th or 19th you'd still face minimal fines/penalties/interest? Or I wonder if that would somehow increase your chances of getting called out for an audit?
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:53 PM
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I'm pretty sure you'll owe a 5% of amount due penalty for late filing plus 5% annually compounded daily in interest on amount due.

Assuming they catch you, of course. They're more likely to do so if you file electronically.

Last edited by OldGuy; 04-16-2019 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:44 PM
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Federally, there will be three charges:

1) Failure to File penalty: This is 5% of the balance due that should be shown on the return PER MONTH or fraction of a month. For example, if you file one month and one day late, it adds up to 10%. Maximum: 25% Minimum: If more than 60 days late, there is a minimum of the lesser of $235 or 100% of the balance due.

2) Failure to Pay penalty: This is 0.5% of the unpaid balance for each month or fraction of a month. Any month in which both the FTP and FTF penalties apply, the FTF penalty is reduced to 4.5%. Maximum: 25%

3) Interest: An annualized interest payment that is currently 6% computed on a daily basis. This interest rate is adjusted quarterly. Note that the FTF and FTP penalties are subject to interest.

Each state sets its own interest and penalty rates. They could be more or less than the corresponding federal rates.
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:15 AM
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Since this involves legal advice, let's move it to IMHO.

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Old 04-17-2019, 12:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
I'm pretty sure you'll owe a 5% of amount due penalty for late filing plus 5% annually compounded daily in interest on amount due.

Assuming they catch you, of course. They're more likely to do so if you file electronically.
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Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
Federally, there will be three charges:

1) Failure to File penalty: This is 5% of the balance due that should be shown on the return PER MONTH or fraction of a month. For example, if you file one month and one day late, it adds up to 10%. Maximum: 25% Minimum: If more than 60 days late, there is a minimum of the lesser of $235 or 100% of the balance due.

2) Failure to Pay penalty: This is 0.5% of the unpaid balance for each month or fraction of a month. Any month in which both the FTP and FTF penalties apply, the FTF penalty is reduced to 4.5%. Maximum: 25%

3) Interest: An annualized interest payment that is currently 6% computed on a daily basis. This interest rate is adjusted quarterly. Note that the FTF and FTP penalties are subject to interest.

Each state sets its own interest and penalty rates. They could be more or less than the corresponding federal rates.
As I see it, the question isn't really "what are the technical penalties for filing late?," which Cecil addresses, but rather "what is the likelihood that the IRS will bother to impose fines or charges if you file a few days late?" Cecil's article says being a day or two late is no big deal. The OP wants to know if that's still true.

I'd be interested in hearing if anyone has actually been charged by the IRS for filing a few days up to a week or two late.
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:21 AM
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Don't want to interfere with a good discussion but, if you're owed $$$, you can usually not worry about the 15th. It's not great advice but I've filed late returns.
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:25 AM
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Don't want to interfere with a good discussion but, if you're owed $$$, you can usually not worry about the 15th. It's not great advice but I've filed late returns.
{OP here} I have a feeling that would've been a tremendous cure for my procrastination and outright laziness.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by sitchensis View Post
Don't want to interfere with a good discussion but, if you're owed $$$, you can usually not worry about the 15th. It's not great advice but I've filed late returns.
Yea, I'm a little confused about this. So if I read Ally's post correctly and I don't have any balance due, then I can file whenever the heck I feel like it?
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
Yea, I'm a little confused about this. So if I read Ally's post correctly and I don't have any balance due, then I can file whenever the heck I feel like it?
Correct. If you don't owe the IRS anything, or if the IRS owes you, you don't even have to file. It's not necessarily a good idea, but if you don't want your refund, the IRS is OK with that. Cecil's column mentions, however, three years from now, you won't get your refund for this year even if you back-file.

It is also not necessarily a good idea not to file because you might be wrong about not owing anything. And finding out that you are wrong can get expensive.

Practically, you are probably OK - the IRS has bigger fish to catch than people who filed one day late. But if they wanted to go after you, they could. I can see some ambitious junior employee of the IRS going to his manager and saying "hey Bill I ran a query on all the returns that filed on or after April 16 who didn't request an extension. Here's the form letter telling them they owe 10% of their outstanding balance. It adds up to $X thousand minus the cost of postage." And Bill says "easy win - send it out and see if anybody sends back the money."

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:17 AM
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Oh wow. I've always had 15 April drilled into my head. I don't think anyone ever mentioned that it only applied if you have a balance due.

However, deadlines are usually good for me. I need to forget this discussion as soon as possible.
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Old 04-17-2019, 07:37 PM
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I am not convinced that it is okay not to file at all when you don't owe anything. True, there is no late filing penalty, but there is still an obligation to file. I have a friend who didn't file for 40 years (he has lived in Canada and, even if he didn't take the foreign earned income exemption, the foreign income tax credit would have wiped out any owed taxes). When he decided to regularize his situation, it cost him at least $10,000. I am not sure why. I have always filled out the useless forms, but never owed a cent. Utter waste of time.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Correct. If you don't owe the IRS anything, or if the IRS owes you, you don't even have to file. It's not necessarily a good idea, but if you don't want your refund, the IRS is OK with that. Cecil's column mentions, however, three years from now, you won't get your refund for this year even if you back-file.
I get tired of seeing this repeated over and over on the internet.

First of all, the IRS does not know whether or not you owe them anything until you file. And they are authorized to create a Substitute for Return (SFR) that makes worst case assumptions about what you owe if you fail to file. The SFR can say that you owe them money.

Next willful failure to file (including failure to file on time) is a criminal matter that could earn you a $25,000 fine and a year in jail. 26 U.S. Code  7203. Willful failure to file return, supply information, or pay tax. Owing the government money is NOT an element of the crime. You could be convicted of willful failure to file even if the government owes you money.

Take the case of Richard P. Hairston United States v. Hairston, 819 F.2d 971, 974 (10th Cir. 1987): Mr Hairston was convicted of willful failure to file. However, Mr Hairston wanted to present evidence at trial that he would have received a refund for one of the years he failed to file. The trial judge disallowed this.

He appealed on several grounds, including the ground that the trial judge erred in disallowing evidence that he would have received a refund. The appeals court agreed that whether he would have received a refund was irrelevant.

Now it is true that the government seldom pursues criminal cases against late filers or non-filers. The IRS is interested in collecting taxes, not putting people in jail. They only do it when there is some other concern or there is publicity value in making an example out of the non-filer. Mr Hairston was, for example, a tax protestor and did not file for many years. But he lost in court and the government prevailed.

So please stop saying this stuff. If your income exceeds certain levels, you are required by law to file. Period.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:03 PM
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Yea, I'm a little confused about this. So if I read Ally's post correctly and I don't have any balance due, then I can file whenever the heck I feel like it?
On other boards, people frequently post stuff like "I was using TurboTax and it told me I was not eligible to make a Roth IRA contribution and I have to fix it. What do I do now?" Well, if you had filed on time or submitted an extension request on time, you could ask for a return of your contribution until October 15. But, oops, you read on some internet discussion board that you don't need to file on time or get an extension if you have a refund coming so the deadline for you to get a return of contribution passed on April 15. Now you have to pay penalties on the overcontribution.


There are a lot of places in the Internal Revenue Code that say such-and-such must be done by "the due date of the return (including extensions)." If your only income is a W-2, you may never encounter them, except for the insanely complicated rules surrounding retirement plans. But if this comes as a surprise to you, how do you know that none of these rules will ever apply to you?

And actually. with few exceptions, you lose the right to collect a refund if you file more than 3 years after the due date.
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Old 04-17-2019, 10:07 PM
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For those returns received by mail: does the IRS actually look at the postmark for each return it receives after April 15 to see it if was postmarked by April 15? Or does it wait a few days before doing this? [Many postmarks are somewhat blurred...]
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Old 04-18-2019, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
For those returns received by mail: does the IRS actually look at the postmark for each return it receives after April 15 to see it if was postmarked by April 15? Or does it wait a few days before doing this? [Many postmarks are somewhat blurred...]
Yes, but the number of days is secret.

Look at IRM Sec 3.11.212.9.3. This is the set of instructions that IRS employees use to process Form 4868. Form 4868 is the automatic extension form. There is a table in paragraph 5. The first line says that if the form is received before [ deleted date ] it's not necessary to check the postmark date. I'm sure that there is a similar table for Form 1040, but I knew where this one was and I'm too lazy to go searching for the Form 1040 instructions right now.
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