What to Do If You Missed the April 18 Federal Tax Filing Deadline

By Capt. Javier Diaz, Fort Bliss Legal Assistance Office

The last day to file your 2021 federal taxes was April 18, 2022, if you did not request an extension to file your federal taxes.  What happens if you were not able to file your federal taxes on or before the April 18 deadline? This article covers the income levels that require a federal tax return filing, what penalties may apply, and what options you may have going forward.

First, if you made little to no income during 2021, you are not required to file a tax return. Your filing status, whether it’s single, head of household, married filing jointly or separately, or widow(er), affects how much money you can make before being required to file your federal taxes.

If you are single and made more than $12,550 dollars in 2021, the IRS requires you file your federal taxes. If you file as the head of household, which means you are either single or married filing separately and claiming a dependent, you can make up to $18,800 without filing a federal tax return. For married filing jointly, if the combined income between you and your spouse is above $25,100, you are required to file a federal return. Widows and widowers are subject to the same $25,100 limit. These required filing limits apply only if you are under the age of 65. If you are above the age of 65, higher limits will apply. The married filing separately filing status holds the lowest income level at only $5.00 regardless of age.  Please note that, if you are a U.S. citizen and a resident of Puerto Rico for the whole year, you must generally file a U.S. income tax return for any year in which you meet the above income requirements. Your U.S. gross income doesn't include income from sources within Puerto Rico. It does, however, include any income you received for your service as a Soldier employed by the U.S. Department of Defense.

If you met the income thresholds for your filing status and missed the April 18 federal tax filing deadline or didn’t file for an extension, the IRS will charge a monthly late-filing penalty on any taxes owed. The penalty is an accumulating 5%, up to 25% of the unpaid taxes, until you file. While it may take some time for the IRS to contact you, the IRS will send you a summons, which is a sort of not-so-friendly reminder. This summons will legally compel you to communicate with the IRS to try and determine your tax liability. In addition, the IRS may collect interest on the unpaid taxes for failing to pay your taxes on time. As of April 2022, the current interest rate used to calculate how much interest you’ll owe on your unpaid taxes is approximately 4.26%.

The consequences of missing the federal tax filing deadline does not stop there. The IRS can seize your state tax refund and affect specific federal payments, such as social security benefits.  So, if you missed the filing deadline, you should file a return as soon as possible to minimize any interest or penalties you may incur. The IRS has the IRS Free File program, for those who qualify, that is available on IRS.gov through Oct. 15, 2022, to prepare and file returns electronically. If the late return is filed over 60 days late, the minimum filing penalty is $435 or 100% of the tax liability shown on your return, whichever is less.

Additionally, Military OneSource provides free tax preparation and filing software. This free tax service is provided from mid-January to mid-October. Military OneSource offers access to MilTax, which is an easy-to-use software that is designed specifically for the military community. MilTax also provides consultants to help military members answer questions about their tax preparation.

If you have more questions about this topic, please schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney at Fort Bliss Legal Assistance Office by either calling (915) 568-7141 during office hours or emailing usarmy.bliss.hqda-otjag.mesg.bliss-legal-assistance-office@mail.mil anytime.