You can’t get out of paying your taxes, but if you have a good reason why you paid late or made a mistake, you may be able to avoid penalties. “My dog ate my tax return” won’t cut it, but here are a few reasons the IRS respects, via Forbes.
“My Tax Pro Made Me Do It” — If you followed the advice of your tax advisor, the IRS is likely to give you a pass on the penalties, as long as you meet certain requirements. (For example, the tax advisor can’t be your employee.) Sometimes there will still be penalties, so this one isn’t a given, but it’s strong.
“My Tax Software Made Me Do It” — After a few years of refusing to budge on penalties for software-related mistakes, the IRS did about-face.
“My Mental Illness Made Me Do It/My Drug Addiction Made Me Do It” — There’s case law treating mental problems or substance abuse as a defense to criminal tax charges. The key here is that the claimed medical or psychiatric disability has be legit, and you need paperwork to prove it.
Of course, the best thing to do is to file timely and make sure you’re using a professional or software you trust.