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The previous year, the deadline for filing your federal income tax return was pushed back from 15th April to 15th July due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year in 2021, the IRS is extending the tax day 2021 to the 17th of May.

Besides giving taxpayers more time to file their 2020 federal income tax return, the extension provides the tax agencies more time to adjust its computer systems and forms to account for tax changes made by the recently instituted American Rescue Act, most prominently, the new exclusion of up to $10,200 of Unemployment Compensation.

For instance, if you are a victim of the February winter storms in Texas, Louisiana, or Oklahoma, you can wait until June 2021 in order to file your 2020 federal income tax return.

However, moving the general filing deadline from the 15th of April to the 17th of May does not alter these disaster-related extensions. Furthermore, if there are other natural disasters between now and the 17th of May, other Americans could have their filing deadline pushed even further as well.

What is Tax Day?

tax time 2021

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In the United States, Tax Day is the due date for federal individual income tax returns and tax payments. Besides, for most taxpayers, in most years, you must submit federal income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Services [IRS] by 15th April. This date applies to individuals who file their taxes based on a calendar year and allows them to prepare for the tax season.

However, if you use a fiscal year, you need to file your taxes by the 15th day after the last day of your fiscal year.

For instance, if your fiscal year ends on 30th June, your federal tax return is due by 15th October. Interestingly, deadlines for state taxes can be different from federal tax deadlines.

In case you have to file a state income tax return, check with your state tax agency to confirm the due dates.

If you need more time to prepare your tax return, you may ask for an extension. This can provide you an extra six months to file your taxes, but your tax payment is still due on Tax Day.

In order to request an extension, you need to perform the following tasks:

  • File an extension form using the IRS Free File tool, including your estimated payment
  • Pay total or partially your estimated tax bill and indicate that your payment is for an extension.

Nevertheless, you must file your extension request on or before your original payment due date.

Special Considerations

When a tax filing due date occurs on a weekend or a national holiday, the deadline is pushed to the next business day. The only national holiday that would affect Tax day is Emancipation day – a holiday in Washington, D.C., that appreciates the abolition of slavery in the U.S. and is celebrated on 16th April.

You can push back the tax filing date if Tax Day falls on a national holiday in your state or in the state where you need to file. For instance, in Maine, Massachusetts, and North Dakota, Tax Day may be delayed due to Patriot’s Day, a statewide holiday that falls on the third Monday in April.

Moreover, Patriot’s Day is a national holiday in Wisconsin and Connecticut; it is still celebrated on 19th April. In 2019, taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts got two more days for filing their taxes because of Patriot’s Day.

That year, Patriot’s Day fell on 15th April, and alternatively, Emancipation Day fell on 16th April; thus, the IRS pushed the deadlines to 17th April in those states.

When is Tax Day 2021?

may 17 2021 tax

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The IRS sometimes extends tax filing deadlines as a part of a relief effort for rough economic crises or natural disasters. For instance, in 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] declared severe winter storms in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma as major disasters.

The IRS acknowledged by giving residents of these states a deadline like 15th June 2021 for filing their federal income taxes.

In 2020, the IRS deferred the deadline for tax filings and tax payments to 15th July 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic hardships due to the pandemic continued even into 2021, and the IRS once again extended the filing and payment deadlines.

Taxpayers have time till tax day 2021 on the 17th of May to file and pay federal individual income taxes. Thi relief is automatically available to individual taxpayers, and you don’t have to file a form or contact the IRS to extend your tax filing deadline. 

The IRS didn’t extend the deadline for estimated quarterly payments, which are still due on 15th April 2021.

How to File Your Federal Income Taxes?

Most individuals work with tax agencies or use tax preparation software to file their income taxes. Another alternative is the IRS Free File Program. If your adjusted gross income [AGI] is less than or equal to $72,000, Free File offers tax preparation services by a partner site free of cost.

Moreover, if your AGI is above $72,000, you can still use IRS Free File for preparing your own taxes online for free.

If you are expecting a refund, you will want to file electronically if possible. This is because individuals who do so typically receive their refund within three weeks after IRS receives it. Further, you can choose to mail a paper return to the IRS. Sadly, it may take six to eight weeks to process.

What Happens If You Miss the Tax Day 2021?

In case you miss the tax filing deadline, the IRS recommends filing your late return as soon as possible to avoid a failure penalty. However, the IRS won’t charge a failure penalty if a refund is due. 

That said, there is a three-year law of limitation on refunds. If you file more than three years after your deadline, you will not get your money.

Individuals who pass over the payment deadline may be subject to a failure penalty in addition to interest charges on the amount due. An exception may be there if you are experiencing hardship and file a particular extension.

Therefore, try to file taxes as early as possible to avoid missing the deadline. Along with this, start gathering your documents as soon as you receive them. You should also make sure to arrange an appointment with a tax agency. Even if the IRS stretches the due date, it might be in your best interest to file early, notably if you expect a refund.