The deadline to file taxes is upon us.
This year, it falls on Tuesday, April 18 — the result of the District of Columbia’s observance of Emancipation Day on Monday and the fact that the typical deadline, April 15, fell on a weekend.
Filers can still request an extension, at which point they have until Oct. 16 to submit their full return.
If you haven’t filed yet and think you cannot afford software or an accountant to file your taxes — and you made less than $73,000 last year — you can file for free at IRS.gov.
If you fail to pay your taxes, you’ll owe a 0.5% monthly penalty on the unpaid amount, in addition to the unpaid amount itself, for each month, or part of the month, that taxes remain unpaid. That penalty rate keeps accruing until the total tax penalty reaches 25% of your total unpaid taxes.
The penalty rate increases to 1% if you don’t pay your tax 10 days after receiving an Internal Revenue Service notice about its intent to levy a penalty.
The minimum thresholds for filing based on your age and filing status can be found here. Generally, individual taxpayers who made less than $12,950, or $25,900 for a married couple filing jointly, are not required to file a federal tax return.
The IRS says low-income individuals should still file because they may be entitled to a refund from withheld taxes or from programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit.
According to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, about 60% of households are slated to owe federal income taxes this year, an increase from the last two years thanks to the expiration of pandemic-era stimulus programs and lower unemployment.
What about refunds?
For the week ending April 7, the average federal tax refund amount was $2,878. That’s down from $3,175 last year and the result of pandemic-era federal payment programs and credits that have ended.
The lower refunds come amid inflation that remains stubbornly high — 5% as of March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Survey data from the financial information group Bankrate showed that 28% of Americans plan to use their refund to pay down debt, while 26% said they plan to boost savings.
Bankrate senior industry analyst Ted Rossman said this makes sense given how inflation has continued to eat into Americans’ finances.
‘Everything is more expensive now, and that leads to credit card debt,’ Rossman said. ‘More purchases are being financed.’
Other Bankrate data showed that 46% of Americans now carry credit card debt, up from 39% a year ago. And debt loads are higher — up 28% since 2021 according to New York Federal Reserve data, Rossman said.
And with annual percentage rates averaging more than 20%, ‘putting some money toward credit card debt is really impactful,’ he said.