What Is a Reasonable Cause for Filing Your Federal Tax Return Late?

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You should observe the April 15 deadline for filing your income tax returns and pay your tax, if any, prior to the date it's due. This will ensure you avoid penalty charges and interest. In most cases, you may borrow the money to pay your taxes at a relatively low interest rate than if you were to pay later, at the combined IRS penalty and interest rate. However, the Internal Revenue Service understands that you may have reasonable cause for not filing on time.

Reasonable Cause for Filing Late

You may have a reason for not filing late; however, it has to be justifiable. The keyword is reasonable -- the IRS will grant an exception only in extreme and unusual circumstances. For example, if you are a member of the U.S. armed forces and are deployed in a combat zone or if you are in certain disaster situations. The IRS will not excuse late filing because of illness, unless the illness is beyond your control and serious enough to make it virtually impossible to file your federal tax return. An intermittent incapacity will not be excused unless it's continuous, or a disability.