So You Have Missed the Tax Filing Deadline

It’s mid-April.  In many parts of the country, that means a few more rainy days than normal and the last of milder temperatures before we move into the heat of the summer.  But it also means that the tax filing deadline for federal income tax has passed.

If you have filed your federal income tax and paid any tax owed, then you have nothing to worry about (and you can enjoy that nice weather I mentioned).  But if you have not taken care of your federal income tax for this year, there are some steps you need to take right away to minimize the damage.

Filing Your Tax Return

If you have missed the tax filing deadline, you should file your federal income tax right away.  A federal income tax return for most people who work a job or two and perhaps pay rent for where they live is not that difficult to complete (especially if they get a bit of professional help from a tax attorney).

But many people think that filing their tax return and paying their taxes are the same thing.  However, that is simply not the case.  If you owe federal income tax and cannot afford to pay it, you should still file your federal income tax return, as this will minimize the penalties the IRS charges for filing late.  A tax attorney can help you complete the filing process.

Paying Your Taxes Owed

I do not have to tell you that the IRS expects you to pay your taxes.  Once you have filed your tax return, you can determine how to address payment of any tax you owe.  If you have enough money to pay your tax, you should do so, as the longer you wait to pay any tax due, the more interest the IRS will charge on the balance owed.

However, if you cannot afford to pay the tax you owe, you should work with a tax attorney to evaluate the options you have, such as an installment plan or an offer in compromise.  This should likewise be done as quickly as is possible to minimize the interest charged by the IRS.

Contacting the IRS

While talking to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may not seem like a pleasant thing to do, especially if you have missed the tax filing deadline and believe you will get in trouble with the IRS, it can actually be helpful when trying to address taxes owed.  This will let the IRS know that you want to pay the tax you owe and are interested in working with them to address the situation.

Remember that talking to the IRS does not mean that you have to do this yourself.  A tax attorney can have this conversation for you.

Hire a Tax Attorney

In several of the steps above, I have mentioned working with a tax attorney.  Before you do anything else, it is generally a good idea to speak with a tax attorney.  There are tax attorneys who specialize in dealing with returns where someone has missed the tax filing deadline or they owe back taxes.  A tax attorney can help you prepare your tax return correctly, get it filed with the IRS, and work with the IRS to address any late filing fees, interest, or payment plans.  In some cases, a tax attorney may even be able to negotiate a reduced amount of tax owed.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.