Important Income Tax Deadlines for 2020

Some tax deadlines have been pushed back due to national events

Important 2020 tax deadlines include January 15, April 15 (the typical filing deadline for annual tax returns and your first quarterly estimated tax payment for the current year), June 15, July 15 (the new tax filing and payments deadline-also known as Tax Day-for 2020; the IRS announced the changed on March 21, 2020),September 15, and October 15.

 Image by Catherine Song © The Balance 2020

April 15 is supposed to be the official tax deadline to file your federal income tax return each year, but that date isn't carved in stone. It can be moved to the next business day when April 15 falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, and it was extended an entire three months in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Some taxpayers don't have to file until December in 2020.

The April 15 deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020 in response to the pandemic. July 15 falls on a Wednesday and it's not a holiday, so the filing deadline for your 2019 personal tax return is indeed July 15, 2020.

The Internal Revenue Service began processing tax returns on Jan. 27, 2020.

Important 2020 Deadline Changes

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Twitter on March 20, 2020 that Tax Day, the deadline for individual returns for the 2019 tax year, would be automatically pushed from April 15 to July 15 for all taxpayers. The IRS confirmed this on its website on Saturday, March 21, 2020. It wasn't necessary to file an official request to be granted this extra three months' time.

The deadline for tax payments that would have been due by April 15 was also extended to July 15, 2020. Payments were deferred without penalties and interest accruing during this additional three months.

The IRS then announced on August 26, 2020 that it would provide extra relief for taxpayers who have been affected by the California wildfires. If you haven't filed your return already because you couldn't make the initial July 15 deadline and you asked the IRS for an additional extension of time to file, your tax filing deadline has been automatically extended from October 15 to December 15.

Asking for an extension would normally make your tax return due on October 15. You have two more months if you've been affected by the California fires.

Unfortunately, this provision doesn't provide late payment relief because tax payments were due by July 15, and California wasn't declared to be a disaster area until August. Third quarter estimated payments, normally due September 15, are bumped back to December 15 as well, however.

Taxpayers in the following counties qualify for this relief:

  • Lake
  • Monterey
  • Napa
  • San Mateo
  • Santa Cruz
  • Solano
  • Sonoma
  • Yolo


Taxpayers in counties that were added to the disaster list after August 22 will automatically receive this tax relief as well.

Deadlines have also been extended for victims of Hurricane Laura who asked for an extension to October 15 to file. Any tax deadlines that would normally have fallen due between August 22 and December 31, 2020 are bumped back to December 31.

Again, tax payments that were due on July 15 are not affected. The September 15, 2020 estimated tax payment deadline is extended in this provision as well, but to December 31 rather than December 15. Affected Louisiana taxpayers have an additional 16 days. Taxpayers in the following Louisiana parishes qualify:

  • Acadia
  • Allen
  • Beauregard
  • Calcasieu
  • Cameron
  • Grant
  • Jackson
  • Jefferson Davis
  • Lincoln
  • Natchitoches
  • Ouachita
  • Rapides
  • Sabine
  • Vermillion
  • Vernon
  • Winn 

The IRS states that anyone in these California or Louisiana locations who automatically receives a penalty notice for not filing on time should contact the IRS.

You can call the IRS at the telephone number on the notice if you receive one indicating that you're being penalized for missing the October 15 deadline when, in fact, you qualify for relief.

Deadlines in Calendar Year 2020 for 2019 Returns

Deadlines for returns are almost invariably in the spring, with extensions available until the fall:

  • Individual income tax returns: July 15 falls on a Wednesday in 2020, when you'll be filing your 2019 tax return, and it's not a holiday, so the filing deadline for your 2019 personal tax return is indeed July 15, 2020. The Internal Revenue Service began processing these tax returns on Jan. 27, 2020.
  • Estimated tax payments for the 2019 tax year (IRS Form 1040): These were due in 2019 on April 15, June 15, and Sept. 15. They're mostly payable during the tax year they apply to. An exception is the fourth and final estimated payment for the 2019 tax year. That's due on Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Partnership returns (IRS Form 1065): These are due March 16, 2020. The extended deadline is Sept. 15, 2020
  • Estates and trusts income tax returns (IRS Form 1041): These are due July 15, 2020. Additional time can be requested by filing Form 7004.
  • Gift tax returns (IRS Form 709): These are usually due April 15 in the year after the gift was made. For 2020, it's July 15. Requesting a federal income tax return extension automatically extends this date as well until Oct. 15.
  • C-corporation income tax returns (IRS Form 1120): These are due July 15, 2020 for C-corporations that operate on a calendar year. The extended deadline is Oct. 15, 2020. The deadline for C-corp returns is the 15th day of the fourth month following the end of the corporation's fiscal year if the corporation operates on a fiscal rather than a calendar year.
  • S-corporation returns (IRS Form 1120-S): These returns are due March 16, 2020 for corporations on a calendar year. The extended deadline is Sept. 15, 2020. The deadline for S-corp and partnership returns is the 15th day of the third month following the end of the fiscal year if they're on a fiscal year rather than a calendar year.
  • Foreign bank account reports (IRS FinCen Form 114): These reports are due July 15, 2020. The extended deadline with Form 1040 is Oct. 15, 2020.

Deadlines Organized by Date

Here are the dates in chronological order if you prefer to just flip through and mark them on your calendar, including some additional to-do-by dates that might apply to you:

  • Jan. 15, 2020: Deadline to pay the fourth quarter estimated tax payment for tax year 2019
  • Jan. 31, 2020: Deadline for employers to mail out W-2 Forms to their employees and for businesses to furnish 1099 Forms reporting non-employee compensation, bank interest, dividends, and distributions from a retirement plan
  • Feb. 18, 2020: Deadline for financial institutions to mail out Form 1099-B relating to sales of stock, bonds, or mutual funds through a brokerage account, Form 1099-S relating to real estate transactions; and Form 1099-MISC if the sender is reporting payments in boxes 8 or 14
  • Feb. 28, 2020: Deadline for businesses to mail Forms 1099 and 1096 to the IRS
  • March 16, 2020: Deadline for corporate tax returns (Forms 1120, 1120-A, and 1120-S) for tax year 2019, or to request automatic six-month extension of time to file (Form 7004) for corporations that use the calendar year as their tax year, and for filing partnership tax returns (Form 1065) or to request an automatic five-month extension of time to file (Form 7004)
  • April 15, 2020: Last day to make a contribution to traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Health Savings Account, SEP-IRA, or solo 401(k) for the 2019 tax year
  • April 15, 2020: Deadline for first quarter estimated tax payments for the 2020 tax year
  • April 15, 2020: Deadline to file a gift tax return
  • April 15, 2020: Deadline to file estate income tax or trust income tax returns (Form 1041) or to request an automatic five-month extension of time to file (Form 7004)
  • June 1, 2020: Deadline for financial institutions to send out Form 5498 to report balances in an individual retirement account (IRA)
  • June 15, 2020: Deadline for second quarter estimated tax payments for the 2020 tax year
  • June 15, 2020: Deadline for U.S. citizens living abroad to file individual tax returns or file Form 4868 for an automatic 4-month extension
  • July 15, 2020: Deadline to file individual tax returns (Form 1040) for the year tax 2019 or to request an automatic extension (Form 4868) for an extra six months to file your return, and for payment any tax due
  • Sept. 15, 2020: Deadline for third quarter estimated tax payments for the 2020 tax year
  • Sept. 15, 2020: Final deadline to file corporate tax returns for the year 2019 if an extension was requested (Forms 1120, 1120-A, 1120-S)
  • Oct. 1, 2020: Deadline for self-employed persons or small employers to establish a SIMPLE-IRA
  • Oct. 15, 2020: Final extended deadline to file individual tax returns for the year 2019 (Form 1040)
  • Oct. 15, 2020: Deadline for taxpayers who earned $69,000 or less in tax year 2019 to use Free File to prepare and file their returns
  • Oct. 15, 2020: Final deadline to fund a SEP-IRA or solo 401(k) for tax year 2019 if you requested an automatic extension of time to file

What If You Miss a Date?

You'll probably be hit with a financial penalty, if only an extra interest charge, if you don't submit your return and any payment due by the appropriate deadline. But the IRS should accept your money and your tax return and that will be the end of it unless there's another problem.

The IRS says you should file your return as soon as possible if you miss a deadline. If you owe taxes, pay them as soon as possible as well. 

How to File Electronically

You might want to e-file your late return if you haven't missed that deadline as well. Most taxpayers can e-file at IRS Free File, but only if their incomes are under $69,000 as of 2020. Some other rules can apply imposed by the individual software providers who participate in the Free File Alliance as well.

The IRS will accept e-filed returns up until November. It will announce the exact date in November sometime in October 2020.

How to Make Payments

File your return anyway and immediately apply for a payment plan if you can't pay the tax you owe right away. The IRS will generally let you pay over time as long as you make arrangements to do so. 

Go to IRS Direct Pay and have the payment debited directly from your bank account if you owe money and don't want to send a check to the IRS via snail mail, risking all the extra time that might entail.

Remember: Weekends and Holidays Don't Count

Any of these dates that fall on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday are bumped to the next business day. The key word here is "federal." Groundhog Day doesn't count.

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