When's the latest I can file my taxes? To avoid penalties, here's when you need to file.


Hello, fellow procrastinator.

If you're reading this, you haven't filed your taxes yet. Good on you. I'm sure you were out doing something far more interesting. Plus, you're not alone. Basically everybody files their taxes at the last minute. That said, you could be in for some hurt if you don't file by the end of April 18.

Tax Day normally falls on April 15, but this year, April 15 was a Saturday. Normally, that would mean Tax Day would fall on the following Monday, April 17, but Washington celebrates Emancipation Day on April 17, so the whole country gets an extra day to do its taxes.

If you're getting a refund, you don't actually need to worry about missing the deadline. According to TurboTax, 2016 tax returns due for a refund have until April 18, 2020 to be filed. 

If you don't file your 2016 taxes by April 18, 2020, the government will just keep your refund. Congratulations, you probably helped build a bridge — or, more likely, a really big bomb.

Ted S. Warren/AP

Fees, fees, fees

If you're not getting a refund, you'll face fines for filing late. The penalty for late filing is 5% of your unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month you're late filing. The total fine can't exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes. 

On top of that, the government also dings you extra for late payment. In addition to whatever you already owe, you'll owe 0.5% of your unpaid taxes for every month you don't pay. 

The total for that fine also can't exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes. But, if you're paying both fines, the total amount can't come to more than 5% of your unpaid taxes per month.

Mark Lennihan/AP

Get an extension

If you think you might miss the deadline, you can request an extension through the IRS's website. That should give you a little breathing room.

If you're worried that you won't be able to pay your taxes, you should still file to avoid the late filing fee. The IRS might be willing to work with you to set up a payment plan so you don't have to pay it all at once. 

And, for the maximum possible refund, check out this advice.