IRS Extends Tax Deadlines for 2020 Individual Returns & More

Newly Extended 2021 Due Dates for Filing & Paying Taxes

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about numerous changes, particularly with regards to the federal tax code. The IRS has been extremely busy incorporating various programs that were created by federal stimulus legislation, including the expansion of tax credits and the distribution of stimulus checks.

On March 13, 2020, the President Biden issued an Emergency Declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. This Emergency Declaration instructed the Treasury Secretary "to provide relief from tax deadlines to Americans who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency." Therefore, the IRS has recently announced that Tax Day is postponed from the traditional due date (April 15) to May 17, 2021 for income tax returns.

In addition to the annual tax filing day postponement, there are also some extensions for people who live in federally declared disaster regions. Here are the IRS tax due dates that you need to know for this year.

April 15 Tax Deadline Extended to May 17, 2021

Tax Day every year is usually on April 15th, however, that deadline has been moved to Monday, May 17 this year. This extended due date applies to federal individual income tax returns (Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR), and includes filing and payment for 2020 taxes.

Individual taxpayers have until May 17, 2021 to file and pay their 2020 federal income taxes, without incurring any penalties or interest, and regardless of the amount owed to the IRS. This is an automatic extension that applies to all individuals and does not require any forms or applications to be filed.

"This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities," IRS Commissioner, Chuck Rettig, said in a statement. "Even with the new deadline, we urge taxpayers to consider filing as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds. Filing electronically with Direct Deposit is the quickest way to get refunds, and it can help some taxpayers more quickly receive any remaining stimulus payments they may be entitled to."

Additionally, foreign estates/trusts that have federal income tax filing or payment obligations are given an extension to file Form 1040-NR until May 17, 2021.

Extended Deadline for Contributions to IRAs & HSAs: May 17, 2021

The IRS is automatically extending the deadline for individuals to make 2020 contributions to their Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs and Roth IRAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs), and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (Coverdell ESAs). This extension also automatically postpones the due date for reporting and paying the 10% additional tax on amounts includible in gross income from 2020 distributions from IRAs or workplace-based retirement plans to May 17, 2021. Furthermore, the deadline for Form 5498 series returns that are related to these accounts is extended to June 30, 2021.

Extended Deadline for 2017 Unclaimed Tax Refunds: May 17, 2021

The normal April 15 deadline to claim a refund for a 2017 federal income tax return has been extended to May 17, 2021. Current law allows for a 3-year window of opportunity for an individual to claim a tax refund, after which it becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.

Extended 2021 AFSP Deadline: May 17, 2021

Professional tax preparers who are interested in participating in the voluntary Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) for the 2021 calendar year have until May 17, 2021 to submit their application to the IRS. This is an extension of the normal April 15 deadline.

Extended Tax Deadline for Disaster Relief Areas: June 15, 2021

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued disaster declarations earlier this year for victims of the severe winter storms in February 2021 that affected the states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. The IRS has announced relief for people in these states by giving residents a tax extension until June 15, 2021 to file various individual and business tax returns. This postponement includes filing federal 2020 tax returns as well as making tax payments.

Note that the Tax Day extension to May 17 (explained above) does not affect this June 15 extension for disaster relief areas.

Due Dates for Estimated Tax Payments: April 15, 2021

The deadline for Estimated Tax payments has not been extended, therefore, these payments are still due by April 15. This due date is for the first installment of Estimated Tax payments for the 2021 tax year. Generally, taxpayers who earn or receive income during the year that is not subject to withholding are required to make Estimated Tax payments to the IRS on a quarterly basis.

Due Dates for State Tax Returns

It is important to note that these tax extensions have been announced by the IRS, which means that these postponements applies to federal taxes only – and only for this year. Every state has its own tax authority that dictates the deadlines for state tax returns. Since state filing and payment due dates often vary, and do not always mirror federal deadlines, the IRS encourages people to check with their state/local tax agencies for details regarding state taxes.