Filing Late? Here’s What You Need to Know

Did you know the IRS moved the deadline to file 2020 income taxes back to May 17?

Will a death in the family or a serious illness, like COVID, keep you from filing your taxes on time? 

Did circumstances outside your control make it impossible for you to get the records you needed to complete your income tax return? 

When Is Filing Late Allowed?

It’s true that the IRS moved the 2020 filing deadline back to May 17, and many taxpayers appreciate the extra time to file their income tax. But there may still be reasons why you can’t file your taxes by that date. 

Filing your income tax late often results in a fine, but the IRS recognizes that there are legitimate circumstances that make it difficult or impossible to file on time and may waive the fines in those cases. 

You may not need to pay a penalty if the IRS agrees you had a good reason for filing late. Some reasons the IRS accepts include: 

  • A natural disaster like a tornado, or other personal disasters like a fire.
  • You tried but were unable to obtain all the records you needed for filing.
  • The taxpayer or a family member died, had a serious illness or unexpected absence, or was incapacitated in some other way.

There may be other reasons that kept you from meeting your tax obligation. As long as you can prove you tried or were unable to try, the IRS can be very understanding.

How Do I Prove My Case?

To have the penalty waived, you need to show what happened that kept you from filing, why it affected your ability to file, and what steps you took to attempt to file. You will need documentation to back up your claims. Acceptable proof might include hospital records, court records, a letter from a doctor, or documentation proving a natural disaster or event personally affected your ability to file.

How Do I Apply for an Extension on Filing My Income Tax?

As soon as you know you’ll be filing late, apply for an extension using Form 4868 or from the Free File link on the IRS website. Don’t wait until after the May 17 deadline! 

It’s important to remember that:

  • You must apply for the extension by the May 17 deadline. 
  • An extension to file does not extend your deadline to pay, if you owe.
  • You will need to file an estimate of your taxes. If you estimate owing, you should make a payment towards that amount by May 17 to avoid a penalty.

Once you’ve filed an extension, you’ll have until October 15 to finish and file your taxes. 

Is COVID Still Affecting the IRS? 

COVID is still affecting many businesses, including the IRS. Your filing, refund, or processing of your payment may be delayed. Although the IRS is open, many of their services are behind schedule or have been slowed down due to COVID and staffing shortages, including: 

  • Telephone support
  • Processing paper income tax returns
  • Responding to mail
  • Reviewing tax returns

You can check for updates on how COVID is affecting the IRS here

Should I Call the IRS with Questions?

If you’re concerned about a payment, your income tax refund or stimulus check, you might be tempted to call the IRS immediately. We recommend you wait! The IRS is dealing with a backlog of returns due to extended due dates last year, as well as the current staffing shortages. Call volumes are very high. Rest assured that the IRS is working to get caught up.

Amador Accounting Can Help

Working with the IRS can seem complicated and intimidating at times – especially when you’re facing the uncertainty that comes with filing late. It doesn’t have to be! Amador Accounting is here to help. If you are experiencing issues with the IRS, have questions about your taxes, or are unsure how COVID may have affected your status with the IRS, contact Lisa via the website or call her at 734-330-0907 for answers.