April 15 is normally the official deadline for filing your federal income tax return each year, but that date isn't carved in stone. The deadline moves to the next business day when April 15 falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, and other national events can shift it as well.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) typically begins processing tax returns in late January, but the first day to file 2020 tax returns was pushed back to February 12, 2021 because of pandemic-related issues.
The deadline for filing a personal 2020 income tax return was extended to May 17, 2021. This also extends the deadline for any money owed without incurring a late fee or interest penalties. It does not affect estimated quarterly tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021, for business owners and those who file as independent workers.
Deadlines in Calendar Year 2021
Deadlines for 2020 tax returns were almost invariably in the spring, with extensions available until the fall.
- Individual income tax returns: April 15 falls on a weekday in 2021, and it's not a holiday this year. But the filing deadline for your 2020 personal tax return is May 17, 2021 because of the pandemic extension.
- Estimated tax payments for the 2020 tax year (IRS Form 1040): These were due on July 15 and September 15. There normally would have been two additional payments for the first and second quarters on April 15 and June 15, but the IRS pushed them back due to the coronavirus pandemic. The fourth and final estimated payment for the 2020 tax year was due on January 15, 2021.
- Partnership returns (IRS Form 1065): These are generally due March 15. The extended deadline is September 15, 2021.
- C-corporation income tax returns (IRS Form 1120): These were due April 15, 2021, for C-corporations that operate on a calendar year. The extended deadline is October 15, 2021. 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 year, rather than a calendar year. The deadline is the 15th day of the third month after the end of the tax year for corporations with a fiscal tax year ending in June.
- S-corporation returns (IRS Form 1120-S): These returns were due March 15, 2021 for corporations operating on a calendar year. The extended deadline is September 15, 2021. 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 partnership returns were due on the same date as other partnership returns—March 15, 2021.
- Trust, estate, and gift tax returns were due April 15, 2021.
- Nonresident alien returns were due April 15, 2021.
- Exempt organization returns were due May 17, 2021, for organizations with a tax year ending on December 31.
Deadlines Organized by Date
Here are important dates in chronological order if you prefer to just flip through and mark them on your calendar. They include some additional to-do-by dates that might apply to you:
- January 11, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in December 2020 to report this income to their employers on Form 4070
- January 15, 2021: Deadline to pay the fourth -quarter estimated tax payment for tax year 2020
- February 1, 2021: 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
- February 1, 2021: 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, unless the sender is reporting payments in boxes 8 or 10
- February 1, 2021: Deadline for catching up on unpaid fourth-quarter estimated taxes without additional penalties by filing 2020 tax returns
- February 10, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in January 2021 to report this income to their employers
- March 1, 2021: Deadline for businesses to mail Forms 1099 and 1096 to the IRS
- March 2, 2021: Deadline for farmers and fishermen to file individual income tax returns unless they paid 2020 estimated tax by January 15, 2021
- March 10, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in February 2021 to report this income to their employers
- March 15, 2021: Deadline for corporate tax returns (Forms 1120, 1120-A, and 1120-S) for tax year 2020, or to request an 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 six-month extension of time to file (Form 7004)
- March 31, 2021: Deadline for businesses to e-file Forms 1099 and 1096 to the IRS, except Form 1099-NEC
- April 12, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in March 2021 to report this income to their employers
- April 15, 2021: Deadline for household employers who paid $2,200 or more in wages in 2020 to file Schedule H for Form 1040
- April 15, 2021: Deadline for first quarter estimated tax payments for the 2021 tax year
- May 10, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in April 2021 to report this income to their employers
- May 17, 2021: Deadline to file individual tax returns (Form 1040) for the tax year 2020 or to request an automatic extension (Form 4868) for an extra six months to file your return, and for payment of any tax due
- June 10, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in May 2021 to report this income to their employers
- June 15, 2021: Deadline for second-quarter estimated tax payments for the 2021 tax year
- June 15, 2021: Deadline for personal and business taxes for residents of Texas and surrounding states impacted by weather-related disaster area designations.
- June 15, 2021: Deadline for U.S. citizens living abroad to file individual tax returns or file Form 4868 for an automatic two-month extension
- July 12, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in June 2021 to report this income to their employers
- August 10, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in July 2021 to report this income to their employers
- September 10, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in August 2021 to report this income to their employers
- September 15, 2021: Deadline for third-quarter estimated tax payments for the 2021 tax year
- September 15, 2021: Final deadline to file partnership and S corporation tax returns for tax year 2020, if an extension was requested (Forms 1065 and 1120-S)
- October 12, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in September 2021 to report this income to their employers
- October 15, 2021: Final extended deadline to file individual and corporate tax returns for the year 2020 (Form 1040 and Form 1120)
- October 15, 2021: Deadline for taxpayers who earned $69,000 or less in adjusted gross income (AGI) for tax year 2020 to use Free File to prepare and file their returns
- November 10, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in October 2021 to report this income to their employers
- December 10, 2021: Deadline for employees who earned more than $20 in tip income in November 2021 to report this income to their employers
2021 Wildfire and Hurricane Relief
The IRS announced tax deadline extensions on October 19, 2020, for individuals and businesses impacted by the California wildfires and by Hurricane Delta. Those affected by the California wildfires and who had a valid extension to file their 2019 tax returns by October 15 had until January 15, 2021, to file their returns and make tax payments.
Those affected by Hurricane Delta who had valid extensions to file by October 15, 2020 were given until February 16, 2021, to file their tax returns and make payments. This relief applies to areas that FEMA has designated as needing assistance.
Further extensions have been provided for victims of Hurricane Ida. The first gives all residents of Louisiana and those who own businesses there until January 3, 2022, to file any returns or make any estimated tax payments that would have been due on or after August 26, 2021. This extension also applies to tax-exempt organizations.
The IRS then announced on September 8, 2021 that it would extend a similar courtesy to victims of Hurricane Ida in New Jersey and New York. They also have until January 3, 2020, to file and make certain tax payments that were due after September 2, 2021. This extension doesn't apply to all residents but only to those who live in areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It includes businesses and tax-exempt organizations in six counties in New York:
- Kings (Brooklyn)
- New York (Manhattan)
- Richmond (Staten Island)
It includes six New Jersey counties:
Tax due dates resulting from 2020 tax returns are not extended, because they were technically due by May 17, 2021, the tax filing deadline.
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 a tax return and make any payment that's due by its appropriate deadline. The late-filing penalty for a 1040 return is 5% of the tax due per month as of tax year 2020, up to a cap of 25% overall, with additional fees piling up after 60 days. The IRS says you should file your return as soon as possible if you miss a deadline.
How to File Electronically
You might want to e-file your late return if you haven't missed that deadline as well. Many taxpayers can e-file at IRS Free File if their AGIs were under $72,000 in 2020. Some other rules can apply as well, imposed by the individual software providers that participate in the Free File Alliance.
The IRS will accept e-filed returns until November. It will announce the exact November cutoff date sometime in October 2021.
What if You Can’t Pay Your Taxes?
File your return anyway, and immediately apply for a payment plan if you can't pay the tax you owe all at once. 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 the extra time that might entail.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What happens if you miss an estimated tax payment due date?
You might not face any penalty for missing a payment during the year if you end up owing less than $1,000 for the year's quarterly estimated taxes, and if you settle that tax liability with your annual returns. Otherwise, you'll face interest charges until the quarterly payment has been made.
Are inheritance taxes due on the date of death or when the inheritance is received?
While some states do impose an inheritance tax, the federal government only imposes an estate tax. Estate taxes are imposed on the estate itself rather than on the individuals inheriting assets from the estate. Estate taxes aren't necessarily imposed on the date of death, but they will have been assessed by the time an heir officially receives assets.
How do you extend the tax due date?
Taxpayers can request an extension for their income tax return by filing IRS Form 4868.