Were you late with your taxes this year? That can prove costly. The law authorizes the IRS to impose hefty, nondeductible penalties if you submitted your 1040 form after the deadline of Tuesday, April 17 (the 15th fell on a Sunday), and didn’t obtain a six-month automatic extension that moves the deadline back to Monday, Oct. 16 (the 15th falls on a Sunday). However, the due date was April 18 for tax payers in the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont who file with the IRS processing center in Andover, Mass.
The nation’s Black population increased by 1.3 percent,or 522,000, between 2005 and 2006,the U.S. Census Bureau says.
- New York had the largest Black population in 2006 (3.5 million), followed by Florida (3 million) and Texas (2.9 million).
- Texas had the largest numerical increase between 2005 and 2006 (135,000) followed by Georgia (101,000) and Florida (86,000).
- In the District of Columbia,the Black population comprised the highest percentage (57 percent); Mississippi (37 percent) and Louisiana (32 zercent) were next.
- The Black population in 2006 was younger, with a median age of 30.1, compared with the population as a whole at 36.4.
How much is the penalty?
Generally, the late-filing penalty is 5 percent of the balance due (the amount on line 75 of the 1040 form) for each month that return is late, up to a maximum of 25 percent. The IRS calculates the penalty after subtracting taxes previously paid—most commonly, through withholding from your salary and your estimated payments.
And there’s more. Another rule applies if your return is at least 60 days late. The late-filing penalty is at least $100 or the balance due with the return, whichever is the lesser figure. That means the IRS doesn’t exact a late-filing penalty when there’s no balance due.
And now the good news. There are times when the agency will forget about penalties for late filings or payments. To induce the tax collectors to undo an overdue-return penalty, you have to persuade them that there was “reasonable cause” for your tardiness. So what cause is reasonable? The government’s list of acceptable excuses includes a serious illness or death in your immediate family, postal delays, wrong advice from IRS employees, agency tardiness in providing tax forms and instructions, and the destruction of your home, place of business or records as the result of a fire, other casualty or civil disturbance.
But what if you just don’t have the money? The lack of sufficient cash to settle the tab at filing time, even if you’re able to demonstrate that, isn’t reasonable cause that will relieve you of a penalty. The IRS treats a 1040 form as filed on the date it is mailed to the IRS. That’s more good news if you made it to the post office before midnight of April 17. Assuming there’s no reasonable cause, you may qualify for relief under what’s known as the “timely mailed, timely filed” rule. The agency won’t assess the usual penalty against a taxpayer whose return is mailed by the filing deadline even if it’s delayed or lost in the mail.
But expect no clemency for a return for 2006 that’s mailed after April 17. Worse yet, a late mailing can turn out to be considerably more expensive than you might think if there’s a delay of some sort in the mail delivery. The IRS computes the late-filing penalty for a delinquent return from the date it’s received, not the date mailed. The difference between a postmark of April 17 and April 18 can mean an extra 5 percent penalty if the return is delayed for as little as one extra day.
This was underscored in a dispute involving a return that was due on the usual April 15, but not mailed until May 14, just under a month late, and not received until May 19, a bit over one month late. The IRS said the penalty should be 10 percent rather than 5 percent, and the United States Tax Court agreed.
By Julian Block