May 4, 2021

Federal Income Tax Extension: The Rules are Different in 2021

Acknowledging the challenges of 2020, the IRS has issued a federal income tax extension for personal income tax filing in 2021, but not every 2021 deadline was moved.

By now you already know that the federal tax filing deadline was extended to May 17, 2021 for individual tax returns. The deadline extension, however, only applies to personal income taxes (typically a 1040 tax return). Business tax filing deadlines and the deadlines for filing your quarterly estimated taxes have not been extended.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig explained, “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.”

Not only was tax filing extended, so was the payment of federal income taxes. Taxes you owed that would normally have been due on April 15, 2021 can be delayed until May 17, 2021 without penalties and interest—no matter how much you owe for the current tax year. Note: this extension applied to all federal tax payers and did not require the filing of any additional tax extension request form. However, the 1st quarterly estimate tax payment for 2021 that is/was due April 15th, 2021, was NOT extended.

Estimated federal tax payment deadlines

January 1 to March 31, 2021due April 15
April 1 to May 31, 2021due June 15
June 1 to August 31, 2021due September 15
September 1 to December 31, 2021due January 15, 2022

If You Need an Income Tax Extension Beyond May 17, 2021

Desktop with calendar for may and office supplies - representing preparing for income tax extension date on may 17th
Need a tax extension? Start planning now, May 17th will be here soon.

For taxpayers who need even more time to complete their tax filing, the option still exists to file for an extension beyond the May 17, 2021 deadline. To qualify for this extension, you or your tax preparer must file Form 4868 on your behalf. Completion of Form 4868, and submission by May 17, 2021, allows the taxpayer extended time to file taxes but does not extend the time for payment of taxes owed.

With an extension, filed on time, a taxpayer can extend the filing of his federal income tax return until October 15, 2021. However, failure to pay owed taxes by the due date of May 17 will result in interest and penalties for the period of the extension.

Other Important Facts about Filing Your 2020 Tax Return

The extension to May 17, 2021 for filing personal income tax returns for 2020 applies only to federal income tax. If you are required to file state income taxes, you should check with your state tax agency to determine your deadline for filing.

Also, if you are a resident of a winter storm disaster area in Texas, Oklahoma, or Louisiana, your federal tax filing deadline is actually June 15, 2021.

Lastly, concurrent with the May 17 extension for filing Form 1040 is an extension to that same date for individuals who wish to make 2020 contributions to their individual retirement account (IRA), or their health savings accounts (HSA).

For more related insights on tax payment and potential tax savings, read: How Can I Save On Taxes Without Itemized Deductions?

This information is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice.

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