It’s no secret that the IRS discourages people from filing taxes late. But that doesn’t mean they’ll turn down a late filing in favor of getting nothing at all. People have all kinds of reasons for filing a tax return late, but a top five list might look something like this:
- One suggested reason for filing tax return late might be that you just can’t get all the information you need. Perhaps a bank statement has mysteriously vanished, and the numbers are crucial for your return. Or maybe a previous employer has not sent your W-2, meaning that you don’t have accurate numbers. All this can make filing tax return late an understandable choice.
- If you’re looking for a frequently suggested reason for filing tax return late, one of the most common is simply that the money isn’t there. Why file at all when you know you can’t afford to pay? The answer is simple: the IRS will work with you. They set up payment schedules around when you’ll have the money, and can even forgive some of the sum owed, depending on the circumstances.
- Another suggested reason for filing tax return late is a lost job. Between the lower income that can be taxed, and less time to do the filing (searching for a job is a full-time job, too), taxes can fall by the wayside. But if finding a job is time-consuming and stressful, doing it while the IRS is asking tough questions is that much worse.
- Similar: a major health expense (like a sick relative, or a medical operation) can mean less money to pay taxes and less time to fill out forms, so it’s often suggested as a reason for filing a tax return late. But this the kind of issue the IRS is willing to consider when they decide how (and whether) to collect: if you can’t pay, and you’ve dealt with hardship recently, you won’t need to worry about owing the full amount right away.
- If you relocate to a new place, one problem you’ll find is that far too many people have your old address. If helpful reminders and essential information end up in someone else’s trash can, your odds of successfully filing aren’t that good. Even though this is often a suggested reason for filing tax return late, it’s not one you should rely on. A move may be inconvenient, but it’s something you can plan around.
Overall, a suggested reason for filing tax return late might be comforting, but it’s important to resolve the late filing problem. Knowing why you missed the tax filing deadline is good, but knowing how you’ll get the taxes paid is better.