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Tuesday, April 19th is the deadline for Massachusetts residents to file their federal income tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has information for consumers who may be filing a late return.

If you file late and are getting a tax refund, there is no penalty provided you file within three years of the deadline. If you filed for an extension, you have three years from the date of the extension.  If you do not file within three years, your unclaimed tax refunds are forfeited to the U.S. Treasury.

If you owe taxes and do not file your return by April 19, the IRS may penalize you.

The penalty for late-filing is normally 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late, up to 25 percent of your unpaid taxes. That penalty starts accruing the day after the tax filing due date.

If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax.

If you do not pay your taxes by the tax deadline, you normally will face a failure-to-pay penalty of ½ of 1 percent of your unpaid taxes. That penalty applies for each month or part of a month after the due date and starts accruing the day after the tax-filing due date.

If you timely requested an extension to file your individual income tax return and paid at least 90 percent of the taxes you owe with your request, you may not face a failure-to-pay penalty. However, you must pay any remaining balance by the extended due date.

Generally, the failure-to-file penalty is more than the failure-to-pay penalty. If both the 5 percent failure-to-file penalty and the ½ percent failure-to-pay penalties apply in any month, the maximum penalty that you’ll pay for both is 5 percent.

Why filing and paying on time matters.

You should file your tax return on time each year, even if you’re not able to pay all the taxes you owe by the due date. If you file by the deadline, you will avoid paying a penalty for sending it late.

If you cannot file or pay your taxes for whatever reason, it is advised to notify the IRS immediately. The IRS may be willing to work out other payment options, like making installment payments.

If you continually fail to file and pay taxes the consequences are serious. The IRS can come to your residence or business to collect payment – typically if you owe $25,000 or more. The IRS has other ways of obtaining payment as well. They may have your back taxes taken out of your paycheck or Social Security, seize assets such as your house or car, even your bank accounts, or arrest you for tax evasion.

It is important to note that the deadlines for performing certain actions are extended for military personnel serving in combat zones for the period of service in the combat zone, plus 180 days after the last day in the combat zone. The IRS also has the authority to extend filing and payment deadlines in certain disaster situations.

For more information, visit the IRS website.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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