Late Filing and Me

Late filing and me — those are two things I never wanted to see in the same sentence. I always file pretty late in the tax season, because I’m usually waiting on a form to straggle in. There have been a couple of times when I dropped off my return late at night on tax day.

But last night I screwed up.

I finished up our federal taxes at about 11pm and e-filed them. I decided to send in a check for the remaining balance owed since I needed to drop off extensions for the states anyway. So I wrote out the checks, printed out the extensions, got everything in envelopes and stamped, and got moving.

Keep in mind that the post office that stays open til midnight on tax day is 10 minutes from our house, if you hit several lights red. I left with 20 minutes to spare. (Not much, I know, but I thought it was enough time.)

But I failed to take into account that the tax drop off was not at the post office. Instead, it was a few blocks away and I got lost following the signs for the drop off. I didn’t realize it til afterward, but I actually drove past the drop off twice without seeing it. Sigh.

So I was one minute late. Which is too late, of course.

I am so kicking myself not clicking the little “send payment electronically” option on the federal return, among other things. (Ironically, I thought it would take me longer to enter the bank information than to slap a check in an envelope, and I wanted to get the state extensions in on time.)

In case you’re wondering, the IRS web site says that “The penalties for filing and paying late may be abated if you have reasonable cause and the failure was not due to willful neglect.”

Here’s hoping…

Oh and next time? If I don’t have all my forms by March 1st I’m filing extensions, whether I end up needing them or not.


  • Bummer!

    How come you are filing for state anyways?

  • Mary

    I really appreciate hearing of your experience. I got to the Post Office about 3-4 miles from my house at 11:45 pm as usual last night, April 18, 2011–usual for a tax night and there were no employee’s outside like there always are. I parked and went inside to a huge line behind a machine. Being from Minnesota, I was all prepared with my stamped envelopes with big checks in them and worrying more than the 50 or so others in line with no stamps.
    All I can say is, (by the way, I’m in California), Last night was a very very special special special special night. It was YAHWEH’s Passover. And to top it off it was a full moon.
    Thank you so much for saying that deal about the penaltites may be abated. I still don’t know if I should write a letter to them or not. I’m pretty tired. What sleep I did get I dreamt about not attaching a 1099.
    So, I am kicking myself with you today. I could have drove 1/2 mile to the machine at the Post Office right by my house if I had known and there by made the deadline.

  • Ouch Jackie! I’m hoping you won’t have to pay penalties.

  • I don’t know what the consequences of filing the state extensions late will be, but as far as the payment being late for federal, I suggest calling the IRS right away and talking to them. Worst case, ask for the 4 month payment extension. I did this during the day on Monday (the 18th) because due to some very large unexpected car repairs, I didn’t have enough money on hand to pay what I owed for my federal tax return. The penalties for the 4 month extension is only 1/2 of a percent (0.005) of the amount owed each month that it is late. So, for example, I owed $2916 (yikes). I have the option of sending money in as I can – which would reduce the amount owed each month, thus reducing the penalty – or I could pay the whole thing by August 16th. If I waited the entire 4 months, I would need to send them a check for 2993.71. So that’s $77.71 of penalties if I waited the entire 4 months to pay off a rather large tax shortage. I don’t plan on waiting that long, so it will be less.

    Hope this helps…

    • Hm, that’s a good idea. Although do you think I should do that still since I did already send the remaining balance in?

  • I would at least call the IRS – the guy I talked to was actually really very….well, very unlike what you’d expect given the stereotype of the IRS. Very nice, helpful, and understanding. They said the only time they take action is if you completely ignore your taxes and their correspondence. I’m not sure what their “default” action is if you just send in payment late. If it defaults to an installment plan you will pay administrative fees for the setup of such a plan. I learned that as well – the first thing they asked me when I said I couldn’t pay it all was “Do you think you can pay it all within 4 mo?” ‘Cause it’s cheaper. Maybe they’ll just waive all fees because of your circumstance, but I’d think it would be worth a call just to avoid as many fees as possible.

  • Oh man, I hate when stuff like this happens!! I’ve had my fair share of tax filing nightmares. This year I filed an extension and my husband dropped both state and federal at a post office during the day on his way to work. Your recounting of what happened made me feel stressed out! LOL! Now I need to go back to the True Rest spa that I wrote about today. ;-)

  • Sorry – I meant to say “Why are you filing for an extension for state?” I feel like Federal Taxes take up the bulk of your time / energy and state is just a quick follow up. Seem liked if you did the majority of the hard work you might as well just finished up on time.

    • Oh, yeah, state taxes are a whole lot easier and faster than federal. But I have to file in three states, and there are additional forms for two of them. Plus until today I was still missing information needed for two of them.

  • Oh that is a bummer! I used to have to file in two states, so annoying. Glad I’m in one location again!