What you need to know if you miss the tax deadline

The deadline to file taxes this year was Monday for most Americans, and even though a majority of Americans were expecting to receive a refund, many will still miss the cutoff date.

According to the IRS, as of last Friday more than 50 million people had yet to file.

Throughout the coming two weeks, the agency expects to receive more than 30 million returns.

It's not too late for some filers, howver. In Maine and Massachisetts this year's deadline is Wednesday thanks to local holidays.

For those who already have, or are going to miss the deadline – don’t panic – but be prepared to act quickly.

Here is what you need to know:

File an Extension:

The best thing you can do if you know you are going to miss the deadline? File for an extension.

An extension will give taxpayers a six month reprieve from filing, until October 15.

There are a variety of reasons people might need to file an extension, whether they don’t have all their sources of income and expenses identified or they need assistance, Tim Speiss, partner at EisnerAmper Wealth Planning LLC, told FOX Business. However, filing for an extension does not mean you also extend the timeline to pay your taxes.

"To have a valid extension generally—you need to pay in 90 percent of the tax due at the time of the filing ... If you can’t do that, pay in as much as you possibly can to avoid further potential late-filing and interest charges,” Speiss said.

So filing a 4868 form with payment, which can be done online, will keep you in the IRS’ good graces for the time being.

File and Pay as Soon as Possible

Generally people who miss the deadline either ran out of time or didn’t have the money, according to Ted Kurlowicz, professor of taxation at The American College of Financial Services.

“You should do the least harm and file as soon as possible and pay the tax as soon as possible,” he said.

If you file and pay late you are most likely going to have to pay a price. A penalty is issued first for filing late. This is 5 percent of the amount of unpaid taxes each month, up to a maximum of 25 percent. The penalty for paying late is 0.5 percent of the amount you owe each month up to a maximum of 25 percent. If both penalties are due in the same month, the failure to file penalty is reduced to 0.5 percent.

"The late filing penalty could actually be higher than the late tax payment penalty so you should file as soon as possible to do the least harm your personal finances,” Kurlowicz said.

The IRS will not forget about your dues, so make sure you address them promptly.

Be Proactive

"If a person is late with filing and late paying taxes, if they're diligent and proactive with the tax authorities, that’s the best way to position yourself for best possible outcome,” Speiss said.

If you have suffered a recent hardship, the IRS also may be receptive to your circumstances.

"You could negotiate penalties and interest, not usually the tax, but with a hardship you might be able to negotiate a tax settlement,” Speiss said.


Ask for Help

If you are unsure of what to do or how to handle your financial situation, consult or request help from a qualified professional.

“It’s a very stressful experience for many people,” Speiss said. "If you’re in a situation where you don’t think you can meet the filing deadline requirement … it’s always best to go out and hire competent tax advisors to assist you."

This story has been updated.