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I Forgot to File State Taxes. Now What?  

Every year like clockwork you conscientiously pay your state income taxes, but this year you spaced and missed the deadline. Don’t panic. Filing taxes can be a stressful task, and it’s not uncommon for people to forget deadlines or overlook certain tax obligations. If you find yourself in the situation where you forgot to file your state taxes, don’t panic. While it’s essential to address the issue quickly, there are steps you can take to rectify the situation and minimize any potential consequences. 

Are You Sure You Have to File?

As of 2024, if you live and work in any of the following states, you are not required to file an income tax return or pay state income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. New Hampshire exempts wage earners from paying state income taxes, although interest and dividend income is taxed. In addition, Washington taxes capital gains income of high-earning individuals. However, if you live or work in any of the other 41 states or in the District of Columbia, you may be subject to late filing fees, late payment fees or both. 

How to Get a State Tax Extension

Your state’s official website is likely to have information available on filing state tax returns after the deadline. If you cannot find the information online, contact your state’s treasury or tax office by telephone. Be prepared to answer general questions about your income and filing status, because your answers may have a bearing on whether you must file. For instance, many states exempt taxpayers who owe no state taxes from the requirement of filing a return. However, you will forfeit any refund or tax credits you might otherwise have received if you do not file a return. 

Were You Granted an Automatic Extension?

Some states grant taxpayers an automatic extension of time to file if they filed an extension request with the IRS on or before the tax deadline. Other states require a separate extension request even if you filed a federal request. Again, consult your state’s official website or place a telephone call to the appropriate agency to obtain the information that you need. 

State Tax Amnesty Programs

Like the IRS, many states have adopted a cooperative attitude toward taxpayers who make honest mistakes. Some states have tax amnesty programs or otherwise eliminate or minimize penalties for taxpayers who owe and voluntarily come forward. If you just forgot to file, or didn’t file because you didn’t have the money, come clean with the proper authorities. Often, the state will work with you to develop a payment schedule that you can live with to bring you back into compliance. In some cases, you may be eligible for waivers or abatements of penalties and interest for late filing. This is more likely if you have a valid reason for filing late, such as a medical emergency or natural disaster. Contact your state’s tax agency to inquire about any available relief programs and how to apply for them. 

What Do I Do Now If I Forgot to File State Taxes?

File your state taxes as soon as possible. The longer you wait to file your state taxes, the more penalties and interest you may incur. Therefore, it’s crucial to file your late return as soon as possible. Tax penalties imposed by the state can often rival those of the IRS, including liens and levies against your paycheck and assets or even possible jail time. The sooner you file, the quicker you can stop the clock on penalties and interest charges. 

If you are missing Form W-2 or other tax records that you need to file a return, you can often obtain the information you need immediately through the IRS website. In some cases, you may need to make a request by telephone or regular mail, which will require extra processing time. 

Don’t Assume You’re in the Clear

Honest taxpayers act as quickly as possible to file their returns after they have realized that they somehow forgot to do so. But some may decide that since they have managed to get away with not filing a return or paying taxes that they will continue to defy the law. Don’t make that mistake. If your state income tax authority concludes that you intentionally evaded paying taxes, the consequences could be worse than just penalties and interest. It could result in criminal charges

Tax Help for Those Who Forgot to File State Taxes 

Remember, while forgetting to file your state taxes can be stressful, it’s not the end of the world. By taking proactive steps to address the issue and filing your return as soon as possible, you can minimize any potential negative consequences and get back on track with your tax obligations. If you’re unsure about how to proceed or if you need assistance with filing your late state taxes, consider consulting a tax professional. A qualified tax advisor can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you navigate the process more efficiently. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations.   

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