So, haven't gotten around to filing those taxes yet, huh? How does it feel to be a lazy deadbeat who hates America?
Just kidding. No shaming here. I have good news. Let's start with that:
Good news thing No. 1: Illinois automatically grants everyone a six-month deadline extension for state returns. (The deadline was Tuesday, by the way.) If you send in your state taxes by Oct. 17, you won't get hit with a late fee.
Good news thing No. 2: If you don't owe any money – for example, if you're expecting a tax return – guess what the penalty is for late filing? There isn't one. God bless America! Your only punishment is missing out on whatever you're owed, and knowing how dumb you are for dragging your heels on it. (I lied. I'm going to shame you if you pass up free money. Come on.) Of course, you won't know until you've filed whether you owe any money. You can do your best to guess, but at the end of the day nothing is guaranteed.
Good news thing No. 3: I'm guessing you're not an IRS top priority. If you're a big-time tax-evading corporate shark, you're probably not reading this column. (Confidential to big-time tax-evading corporate sharks: 'sup?)
Does all that give you the strength to remember your 5th grade math and file the damn return? OK, good. Here's the bad news.
If you owe the feds money and you don't file on time, they're going to hit you three different ways. You're responsible for: a) interest on what you owe, b) a late payment penalty amounting to .05 percent of your return for every month and partial month your tax is late, and c) a "failure to file" penalty, which is another 4.5 percent of your total owed for each month past deadline.
I told you it was bad news. But still: better late than never. Suck it up, calculate your penalty payments and make your Uncle Sam proud.
One final note. I am not a tax professional or a legal adviser. All this info is available at irs.gov and http://tax.illinois.gov/. So if you get audited, don't sue me. Just go pay your taxes, OK?
Megan Crepeau is a RedEye special contributor. She's a twenty-something college grad navigating this dumpy job market just like the rest of us.