What Happens If I Failed to File State Taxes?

by Michael Wolfe ; Updated July 27, 2017

Most people who earn an income are required to pay both state and federal income taxes. These taxes are assessed as a portion of the income the person earned over a certain period. Most state income taxes must be filed annually, with the taxes paid over the course of the year in the form of withholding from a paycheck or estimated tax payments. People who fail to file on time will likely face financial penalties.


Before considering whether he will face a penalty for failing to file state taxes, a person must first determine whether he is legally required to do so. Many people who earn little or no income are not required to file state taxes. Eligibility for filing state taxes varies from state to state. A person should consult with his secretary of state to determine whether he needs to file.


If a person is required to file and fails to do, he can expect to pay interest on the amount of money he would have been required to pay had he filed his taxes on time. For example, a state may charge a person 1 percent of interest on the unpaid amount for each month that he is late in filing. In addition, the person may face a flat fee for late filing.

Late Filing

If a person has not yet missed the filing deadline for his state taxes, he may generally apply for an extension. Some states grant extensions liberally, while others are strict. If he has missed the deadline, he should still file taxes. Generally, the process by which a person files taxes late is the same as when he files his taxes early, although he may have submit an alternate or additional form.


A person who fails to file taxes may wonder whether he will face criminal penalties in addition to civil ones. Although most states will consistently apply fees and penalties to people who failed to file their taxes on time, very few will charge these people with criminal penalties. Only if a person willfully resists paying taxes does he stand a chance of facing criminal penalties.

About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.