(NEXSTAR) – For those who have already filed, April 18 was just Tuesday, but it may be a source of tremendous stress for others.
If you were worried that you might not be able to finish your taxes in time, you could have filed for an extension, though that’s not ideal (more on that below.)
Whether you do your taxes yourself, go to a tax clinic or hire a professional, navigating the tax system can be complicated and stressful. Courtney Alev, a consumer financial advocate for Credit Karma, recommends you go easy on yourself.
“Take a breath. Take some time, set out an hour, or go through it over the weekend. You’ll hopefully see that it’s a lot simpler than you think,” Alev said.
Can I file for an extension?
The good news is that filing for an extension is pretty painless, but there’s a catch – you don’t get extra time to pay your taxes.
You can use IRS Free File, regardless of income, to file for an extension, as long as you do so by the regular due date of the return.
While the extension pushes the return due date back to October 16 this year, if you think you owe money to the IRS you’ll still have to pay that estimated amount now.
Letting the unpaid tax debt go will make you liable for penalties and interest.
If you expect to receive a refund, you will still receive your money after you file your taxes.
What if I don’t file in time?
If you missed the tax deadline and you didn’t file for an extension, there are several penalties that you might receive. If you missed the deadline you might receive a failure-to-file penalty. This penalty will be 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month the tax return is late, according to the IRS.
If you owe taxes and you didn’t pay them prior to the tax deadline, you will receive a failure-to-pay penalty. Interest will also be charged on both taxes and penalties owed. If you are due for a refund, you will not receive a penalty and you will receive your tax return payment. If you had special circumstances that meant you were unable to file or pay your taxes on time, you might be able to remove or reduce your penalty.
If the amount of taxes you owe becomes too large, you can apply for a payment plan. Payment plans will allow you to pay off over time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.