Tax Day 2024: What to know about refunds, deadlines, extensions before April 15

If you haven't gotten started on your taxes yet… well, you'd better hurry up.

Tax Day falls on April 15 this year, meaning, if you haven't started preparing your returns, you've got less than a week to get it done.

So, if you're a tax procrastinator, here's what you need to know to get your taxes in, and what to do if you don't:

Filing Your Taxes

Once again, tax returns can be submitted electronically or by mail by April 15. 

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A mailed return is considered on time if it is "properly addressed, has enough postage, is postmarked, and is deposited in the mail by the due date," even if it doesn't reach the IRS until after April 15. 

Filing electronically is considered the easiest way to file your taxes. Thanks to a new pilot program, residents in New York can file online for free directly with the IRS using its new Direct File option. 

Direct File should not be confused with the Free File program, which offers commercial software for free to low- and middle-income earners and fallible forms to all. 

Tax Extensions

The deadline to file for a tax extension is also April 15.

An extension gives people until October 15 to file their federal taxes, however, it only covers sending in the relevant paperwork. If you have any taxes owed, they must be paid by April 15 to avoid potential penalties.

Missing the Tax Deadline

In the scenario that you miss the tax deadline, there are multiple different penalties you could face.

If you fail to file your taxes on time, the IRS may assess a failure-to-file penalty on the amount of any unpaid taxes of 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month your return is late, with a maximum of 25% of the total balance due. 

Penalties for missing state tax deadlines can vary.

How long will it take to get my refund?

Assuming you do the smart thing and get your taxes filed on time, you can expect to get your refund in around 21 days.

According to recent IRS statistics, the average tax refund was for $3,081.

You can track your refund using the IRS' "Where's my Refund?" tool.