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US tax deadline ends: What you need to know to pay taxes

April 15 is the last day to make the payment or request an extension to file the tax return

Alonso Martínez
A person uses IRS Free File software in front of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington (DC).
A person uses IRS Free File software in front of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington (DC).Tasos Katopodis (Getty Images)

The U.S. tax season is coming to an end, and with it will come the deadlines for filing federal income tax returns and other paperwork. Most taxpayers who have not yet caught up can still do so electronically through the Internet using some of the tools offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or through a tax professional.

The penalty for failure to file is usually 5% of the tax due for each month late, not to exceed 25% of the bill. If not paid, interest is charged on the penalty, which can result in a large debt and difficulty in making a full payment to the IRS.

Here is everything you need to know about this year’s tax return:

When is the deadline?

April 15 is the deadline to file your federal income tax return. Also, that day is the deadline to request an extension to file and pay back taxes.

Taxpayers will have until that day to contribute to their health savings accounts, individual retirement accounts and other similar plans. In addition, it is the last day to correct an excess contribution, if an overpayment was made accidentally.

States that have another deadline

In Massachusetts and Maine, the deadline to pay is April 17. Filings in Virginia and Louisiana are due in May. Some states offer extensions in case of natural disasters.

How do I file my tax return?

The simplest way to file a return is electronically. Those who had an income of less than $79,000 in 2023 can use the IRS Free File software (available in both English and Spanish). Taxpayers at any income level can use the free forms that are part of that program, which allow them to enter their tax information directly into the system.

In 2024, the IRS launched its IRS Direct File program, which allows taxpayers in 12 states to file their returns online, free of charge and directly with the IRS.

There are also other community-based programs such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, which offer free basic tax help through IRS-certified volunteers.

All military members and some veterans can use the Department of Defense’s MilTax program, which allows electronic filing.

How do I pay my taxes?

The IRS has several options for making tax payments, such as the DirectPay system, where you can pay from a checking or savings account without registration. Fees are charged if paying by debit card, credit card or digital wallet.

Taxpayers can register for the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), which is a free service that allows individual and business taxes to be paid by phone or online.

Cash payments can also be made through a partner and other methods that can be reviewed on the IRS website. The IRS recommends that, if this payment method is chosen, it should be done ahead of time as it may take longer than others.

Tax Refund

In order to check the status of their tax refund, taxpayers can use the Where’s My Refund? tool, which shows the status 24 hours after electronically filing this year’s return. Those using tax preparation software or a tax professional can pay electronically with their bank account.

What do I do if I can’t pay all my taxes?

Taxpayers who cannot make their full payment can apply for an online payment plan, either short or long term depending on the size of the debt. In the second option, payment can be made in up to 72 monthly installments. This type of plan can reduce the penalties for non-payment by half.

Extension

Those unable to file by the deadline may request an extension by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, which must be submitted by the April 15 deadline.

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