Missed the Tax Deadline? If You're Like Most Taxpayers, There's No Need to Panic

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • Taxes were due on April 18 this year. 
  • If you didn't file yours on time, you may not face a penalty for being late.

Take a deep breath -- you may not be in big trouble after all.

April 15 is usually when tax returns are due. But sometimes, that deadline gets pushed out when April 15 falls on a weekend or conflicts with a holiday. 

The latter happened this year, and so the tax-filing deadline was moved to April 18. Despite getting a few extra days, though, you may have missed the tax-filing deadline and are wondering what consequences you'll now face.

To be clear, there can be unfavorable repercussions for being late with a tax return. But if you're like most taxpayers, those won't come into play for one specific reason. 

Are you owed a refund?

Each year, the majority of people who file a tax return wind up being due a refund. If that's the boat you're in, then here's some good news -- there's absolutely no IRS penalty for being late with your taxes. 

Now when you owe the IRS money, it's a different story. In that case, being late with your tax return could cost you a lot of money. 

But the IRS cares less about late returns when there's no money for it to collect. And so if you're in that situation, you can breathe easily knowing you didn't just sign yourself up for a world of penalties.

It still pays to get moving on your taxes

While the IRS won't penalize you for being late with a tax return if you're due a refund, if you're late, you'll effectively penalize yourself. That's because the longer it takes you to get your return in, the longer it'll take for your refund to hit your bank account.

Now if you're looking at, say, a $100 refund, you may not be so motivated to carve out time to file taxes, especially if you're not having any trouble paying your bills. But as of mid-March, the average tax refund sent out by the IRS this year came to $3,352. That's not a small amount of money. 

Meanwhile, a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet these days due to rampant inflation. If you're in a similar boat, delaying your own refund could mean sentencing yourself to credit card debt, which can cost you in the form of accrued interest.

That's why it pays to get your taxes done as soon as you can. And if you're not sure how, there may be free tax help available if you're a lower earner or have language barriers holding you back. 

Even if you don't qualify for free help, it may not be difficult to hire a tax professional right now. Tax professionals tend to be swamped in the weeks and months leading up to the filing deadline. But now that that deadline has passed, you may have an easier time getting an appointment.

Either way, it pays to come up with a plan for getting your return submitted to the IRS. It normally takes three weeks to process tax refunds for returns that are filed electronically. The sooner you get your taxes done, the sooner you can begin that countdown.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until 2025

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR for 15 months, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow