It's tax day, and you're scrambling. What's the penalty for filing taxes late?

Your federal income tax return and any remaining money you owe Uncle Sam for 2017 are due today.But if you're ...

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 5:25 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 5:25 PM

Your federal income tax return and any remaining money you owe Uncle Sam for 2017 are due today.

But if you're still not ready to do the deed, at least keep the following in mind:

If you miss the filing deadline, you could be hit with penalties and interest if you still owe money to the IRS.

For those who are owed a refund, however, there is no penalty for filing late. But you better be pretty sure about that refund because the punitive charges can really add up if you're wrong.

The late filing penalty amounts to 5% of your unpaid tax every month or part of a month that it goes unpaid. That charge will accrue for up to 5 months, capping the penalty at 25% of the unpaid amount.

If you're more than 60 days late, you'll be subject to a minimum charge of $205 or 100% of the unpaid tax, whichever is less. That minimum is meaningless, however, if the 5% per month you've been charged adds up to more than $205.

Related: When will I get my tax refund?

On top of that, you may also have to pay a late payment penalty, which amounts to 0.5% a month on your unpaid taxes plus interest. The penalty and interest will apply for every month or part of a month that you have an outstanding bill.

The filing deadline this year is April 17, 2018. If you file for an automatic 6-month extension, your filing deadline will be October 15.

But remember, an automatic extension to file is generally not an extension to pay. You must have already paid least 90% of what you owe for tax year 2017 by April 17 to avoid a late payment penalty.

Ways to minimize penalties

To make sure you're not hit with big penalties, your first priority should be to avoid the late-filing fee.

So even if you can't pay what you owe, file a return anyway. And if you can't get your paperwork together to file by April 17, file for an automatic extension.

Related: 11 tax deductions and other ways to cut your 2017 tax bill

If you file for an extension, you may avoid a late payment penalty if you've already paid 90% of what you owed for 2017 and you pay the remaining 10% by your extended filing deadline.

And if you are going to be late in paying what you owe, at least try to pay some of it when you file, so the interest will apply to a smaller balance.

Lastly, if you can show "reasonable cause" for not filing or paying on time, the IRS will not apply penalties. But the agency doesn't indicate what constitutes "reasonable cause." That's determined on a case-by-case basis, an IRS spokesperson said.

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Ramsey3351149
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Dakota144664
Washington70035
Olmsted68911
Rice5243
Kandiyohi5141
Scott4712
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Wright3492
Todd3441
Sherburne2492
Carver2402
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Lyon1012
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Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Red Lake40
Traverse40
Grant40
Clearwater30
Houston30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 21114

Reported Deaths: 593
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4614140
Woodbury286137
Black Hawk178849
Buena Vista10672
Linn97879
Dallas95226
Marshall91418
Wapello63615
Johnson6198
Muscatine56741
Crawford5512
Tama41129
Scott38510
Dubuque35921
Louisa35011
Pottawattamie31910
Sioux3060
Jasper26917
Wright2210
Washington1968
Warren1671
Plymouth1522
Story1311
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9913
Poweshiek928
Hamilton760
Webster741
Henry732
Boone720
Bremer716
Clarke690
Des Moines681
Taylor660
Clinton651
Guthrie553
Cedar501
Benton431
Cherokee410
Monroe415
Jones370
Shelby370
Osceola360
Jefferson360
Marion350
Dickinson350
Buchanan341
Iowa340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
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Davis280
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Clay270
Monona260
Harrison260
Hardin240
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Lucas222
Mills200
Grundy200
Franklin200
Humboldt201
Pocahontas200
Delaware191
Floyd191
Hancock180
Appanoose173
Butler161
Kossuth160
Carroll151
Ida150
Greene150
Keokuk140
Jackson140
Page140
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Calhoun100
Union100
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