TurboTax FAQ
TurboTax FAQ
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What if I can't pay my taxes?

The April 15 payment deadline is just around the corner, and you just discovered you owe more tax than you can afford to pay right now.

First of all, don't panic! Follow our step-by-step guide to minimize – or even eliminate – late-filing and late-payment penalties.

Step 1 - File your return (or extension) by April 15

If you do nothing else on this page, at least file your return (or extension) by April 15.

The late-filing penalty can be up to 10 times higher than the late-payment penalty!

Don't let an unexpected tax bill stop you from filing. If you can't finish your return by April 15, file an extension so you can at least avoid the higher late-filing penalty.

Step 2 - Make a partial payment (if you can) by April 15

Late-payment penalties and interest are calculated as a monthly percentage of your outstanding balance after April 15. The less you owe and the sooner you pay it off, the better.

To make a partial tax payment when filing your return, select the option I will mail a check when asked how you want to pay your federal taxes. (Don't choose the direct debit or credit card payment options; these will charge the full owed amount, which you probably don't want.)

You can also make a partial payment when filing an extension; TurboTax will walk you through this when you prepare your extension.

Step 3 - Call the IRS to discuss payment options or consider an installment plan

If you cannot pay off your tax bill in one shot, the IRS might give a few more months to pay. There's no fee to set this up, other than applicable penalties and interest until your bill is paid off.

Give the IRS a call at 1-800-829-1040 if you think you can pay off your outstanding tax bill within 4 months. (You might want to call them after the April 15 hubbub dies down, so you're not sitting on hold forever.)

You can also apply for the IRS Fresh Start Installment Agreement. There are qualifications you must meet, and there is a fee to set this up.

Here are the different ways to apply:

Can I get an installment agreement for my state taxes?

Possibly. Many states allow taxpayers to request an installment agreement, as long as certain conditions (which vary from state to state) are met. 

The process for requesting a state installment agreement also varies; some states only require a phone call, whereas other states make you fill out a form.

As a rule, TurboTax State programs do not support state installment agreement requests, but there are exceptions such as California's Form 3567.

If you do not see this option in your state program interview, contact your state tax agency and ask if they offer an installment agreement.


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