IR-2020-207, September 10, 2020
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today urged individuals who owe taxes but have not yet filed for 2019 to act now to avoid larger penalties that, by law, start after September 14.
The tax deadline was July 15 this year. Taxpayers who submitted an extension have until October 15 to file and do not face the failure to file penalty if they file their taxes by that deadline. But taxpayers need to remember that an extension to file is not an extension to pay. Any taxes they owed after the July 15 deadline are subject to the failure to pay penalty and interest.
Those taxpayers who didn’t request an extension, and still owe taxes, face both the failure to file and the failure to pay penalties. They should file now and pay what they can before larger penalties take effect after September 14.
The penalty for not filing a federal tax return by the due date, or extended due date, is generally 5% of the unpaid tax for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late, up to 25% of the unpaid tax. However, if the return is more than 60 days late, a minimum penalty applies. If no return has been filed after 60 days, the minimum penalty that can be charged is $435 or 100% of the unpaid tax, whichever is less. This year, that important 60-day date occurs after Sept. 14. In addition to penalties, interest will also be charged on any tax not paid by the July 15 due date.
Remember, if a refund is due, no penalty is charged on the late return filed by a taxpayer.
IRS Free File is available on IRS.gov through October 15 to prepare and e-file a 2019 individual return.
Penalty relief may be available
Taxpayers who have not been assessed any penalties for the past three years often qualify to have penalties abated. A taxpayer who does not qualify for the first-time penalty relief may still qualify for penalty relief if their failure to file or pay on time was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect. By law, interest cannot be abated.
Get more time to pay
There are options for taxpayers who owe but can’t pay the full amount. Qualified taxpayers can choose to pay any taxes over time through a payment plan, including an installment agreement that can be set up in a matter of minutes on IRS.gov. A taxpayer’s specific tax situation will determine which payment options are available. The IRS has more information for taxpayers who owe taxes, but cannot afford to pay the full amount.
To avoid surprises next year, taxpayers can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to do a Paycheck Checkup to have the right amount of tax withheld during the year.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that unemployment compensation is generally taxable. To determine if unemployment is taxable, taxpayers can visit the Are Payments I Receive for Being Unemployed Taxable? tax tool at IRS.gov.
Taxpayers can choose to have federal income tax withheld from their unemployment payments. For more information, go to Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request (PDF). Otherwise, taxpayers receiving unemployment benefits may be required to make quarterly estimated tax payments.
IRS to mail special letter to estimated 9 million non-filers, urging them to claim Economic Impact Payment by Oct. 15
IR-2020-203, September 8, 2020
WASHINGTON — Later this month, the Internal Revenue Service will start mailing letters to roughly nine million Americans who typically don’t file federal income tax returns who may be eligible for, but have not registered to claim, an Economic Impact Payment.
The letters will urge recipients to register at IRS.gov by October 15 in order to receive their payment by the end of the year. Individuals can receive up to $1,200, and married couples can receive up to $2,400. People with qualifying children under age 17 at the end of 2019 can get up to an additional $500 for each qualifying child.
The letters are being sent to people who haven’t filed a return for either 2018 or 2019. Based on an internal analysis, these are people who don’t typically have a tax return filing requirement because they appear to have very low incomes, based on Forms W-2, 1099s and other third-party statements available to the IRS. But many in this group are still eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment.
“The IRS has made an unprecedented outreach effort to make sure people are aware of their potential eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment this year,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Millions who don’t normally file a tax return have already registered and received a payment. We are taking this extra step to help Americans who may not know they could be eligible for this payment or don’t know how to register for one. People who aren’t required to file a tax return can quickly register on IRS.gov and still get their money this year.”
The letter, officially known as IRS Notice 1444-A, is written in English and Spanish and includes information on eligibility criteria and how eligible recipients can claim an Economic Impact Payment on IRS.gov. The mailing, which will begin around September 24, will be delivered from an IRS address. To help address fraud concern, a copy of the letter (PDF) is available on IRS.gov.
If those receiving letters haven’t done so already, this letter urges eligible individuals to register by October 15 for a payment by using the free Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, available in English and Spanish and only on IRS.gov. More than seven million people have used the Non-Filers tool so far to register for a payment. Those unable to access the Non-Filers tool may submit a simplified paper return following the procedures described in the Economic Impact Payment FAQs on IRS.gov.
The IRS reminds recipients that receiving a letter is not a guarantee of eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment. An individual is likely eligible if he or she is a U.S. citizen or resident alien; has a work-eligible Social Security number; and can’t be claimed as dependent on someone else’s federal income tax return. However, there can be a variety of situations that could affect an individual’s eligibility. For more information on eligibility requirements, recipients should read the Economic Impact Payment eligibility FAQs on IRS.gov.
The registration deadline for non-filers to claim an Economic Impact Payment through the Non-Filers tool is October 15, 2020. People can also wait until next year and claim it as a credit on their 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021.
The IRS emphasizes that anyone required to file either a 2018 or 2019 tax return should file the tax return and not use the Non-Filers tool.