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Getting a Refund? No Need to File on Time

Written by Nickel - 5 Comments

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As I noted yesterday, it’s easy to file a tax extension. However, you still have to figure your taxes and pay the amount due if you want to avoid interest and late fees. But what if you’re expecting a refund? Here’s an interesting tidbit that I ran across yesterday:

If you’re getting a refund this year, you don’t need to stress about filing on-time.

If you’re among the majority of taxpayers who have a refund coming, you can ignore the April 17 deadline with impunity.

You see, the penalty for failing to meet the deadline is a percentage of the tax owed with your return. If you owe zero, the penalty is zero. Of course, you should file as soon as possible to get your money back. But there’s no reason to lose any sleep, miss any tax breaks or risk life and limb rushing to the post office by midnight April 17.

That being said, there is one catch:

If you are making certain, rather arcane elections on your return (like declaring yourself a day trader for tax purposes), you do need to file by the deadline or ask for an extension, even if you have a refund coming. But if you’re like most refund taxpayers, the deadline doesn’t really matter.

As always, don’t tax this as advice — after all, I’m just a guy with a keyboard…

[Source: Kiplinger’s via Consumerist]

Published on April 17th, 2007 - 5 Comments
Filed under: Taxes

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. Why would anyone EVER want to file late when getting a refund?

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 17th 2007 @ 3:01 pm
  2. This is something that has always ticked me off!

    A tax refund means this:

    You just gave the government an interest free loan!

    Yes, it’s exciting to get a cash injection from the tax refund but that means you just gave the IRS money for nothing.

    I wish I could get interest free loans like that!

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 19th 2007 @ 3:41 am
  3. “Why would anyone EVER want to file late when getting a refund?”

    Because the later you file, the less likely you are to be audited. Once the IRS fills their auditors dockets, your red flag (if there is one)gets pushed into the next year and eventually winds up a dead issue (3 years).

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 30th 2007 @ 6:25 pm
  4. Why??? Because there isn’t enough time in a day when you’re working overtime to keep your job and not being outsourced (this economy absolutely stinks). Claiming my refund will wait until this weekend when I have more time to dig into the numerous deductions and credits. With 2 kids in college, I have to figure out any special tax credits I might qualify for. It’s complicated!!!!

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 15th 2010 @ 8:59 pm
  5. Why? Because it’s too damn hard to file taxes! How many mountains of laws and rules are related to taxes? How much money does the government get because most people don’t even know what their valid “deductions” are?

    Flat tax now! It will save a lot of pain and heartache for everyone.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 12th 2011 @ 9:24 am

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