What happens if I file taxes late?

As with any tax dispute, it is important to address any problem associated with filing or paying your Pennsylvania or Federal taxes after the deadline has passed. However, it is not always entirely clear what, if any, consequences will arise from procrastination. 

One of the most common points of confusion is whether it is more important to file in a timely manner or wait until you are able to pay everything you owe. While this is a complicated question depending on your situation, there are a few predictable outcomes.

The Internal Revenue Service suggests that it is better to pay late than to file your taxes late. Like many situations surrounding tax law, your decision depends on many factors. In this case, these factors include your ability to:

  • Make a timely application for an extension
  • Pay a large percentage of your outstanding taxes
  • Demonstrate reasonable cause for failing to pay or file

Once you pass a due date, your options for delaying your payment or filing without consequence tend to become more limited. If you want to reduce the financial damage of these types of situations, the best strategy is usually to first take a detailed account of the fees, interest and other expenses involved in your tax debt. Once you have an idea of your situation, it often becomes much easier to determine the best course of ameliorative action.

This investigation might also have the additional effect of helping you decide whether you should prioritize payment of your federal or Pennsylvania taxes. Please regard this as educational information. Nothing in this article is meant as legal advice.  

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