What happens if you forget to file your taxes

What happens if you forget to file your taxes?

Though often perceived as a mundane aspect of life, the timely submission of your tax returns plays an integral role in your financial planning and legal standing. Understandably, it can be a complex task laden with intricate processes and potential pitfalls. Notably, one such predicament that many individuals and businesses often find themselves in is forgetting to file their taxes. While the reasons for this occurrence may vary, the consequences typically fall into a standard set of repercussions laid out by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

In the succeeding sections of this article, we, at Wichita Tax Advisors, will seek to provide informational guidance regarding the consequences of not filing your taxes promptly. We will look at how these specific repercussions impact both individuals and business entities, evaluating how the fallout may differ according to your particular tax situation.

Understanding the IRS Penalties for Failure to File Taxes

The IRS, in an effort to encourage the consistent filing of taxes, imposes certain penalties for individuals or businesses who fail to comply. The nature of these penalties can vary substantially, as can their potential impacts on your overall financial situation. Therefore, it is imperative to demystify the complexities therein to enable conscientious tax planning and filings.

Personal Income Tax

For individuals who neglect or inadvertently fail to file their tax return, the immediate repercussion is the Failure to File penalty. This penalty consists of an additional 5% of the unpaid taxes for each full or partial month that your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%. If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or the extended due date, the minimum penalty you could pay is the smaller of $135 or 100% of your unpaid tax. Notably, both of these penalties can be imposed concurrently, which exacerbates the financial toll on the individual. 

Business Taxes

Businesses are not immune to these ramifications. In fact, the consequences of not filing are arguably more severe for businesses as they may face additional penalties apart from Failure to File and Failure to Pay. Depending on the type of business and its tax structure, potential penalties could include Failure to Deposit Penalty for not depositing employment taxes, Trust Fund Recovery Penalty for failing to withhold and pay income and employment taxes, and penalties for not filing information returns or supplying incorrect information. This illustrates the pressing need for businesses to not only be diligent with tax filing but also with all aspects of tax-related responsibilities. 

The IRS, being the predominant regulator, can also impose interest on unpaid taxes and penalties. As of 2023, the rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3%, compounded daily. It must be noted that this interest accrues from the due date of the tax return until the date when the full amount is paid. It applies whether or not you have received a notice and demand for payment. This layer of penal provisions amplifies the gravity of timely tax compliance and the potential risks associated with non-compliance. 

Worst Case Scenario

In extraordinary circumstances, tax evasion charges could be levied, which carry a potential prison term and significant monetary fines. Although these worst-case scenarios are relatively rare, they underscore the importance of good financial management and IRS compliance at every level of financial activity.

Understanding these consequences should stimulate your desire to stay in compliance with IRS tax policies, both for financial reasons and peace of mind. Your diligence in remaining compliant can protect against potentially severe penalties and associated stress.