tax deadline

Tax Day 2021: When's the Last Day to File Taxes?

Like last year, the IRS pushed the tax deadline back this year because of the pandemic. But your 2020 federal tax return is now due soon.

Last year, the deadline for filing your federal income tax return was pushed back from April 15 to July 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the IRS extended the due date again – this time to May 17. In addition to giving you more time to file your 2020 federal income tax return, the extension gave the tax agency more time to adjust its computer systems and forms to account for tax changes made by the American Rescue Plan Act – most notably, the $10,200 exemption for unemployment compensation received in 2020. (The IRS will start sending refunds for this new exemption soon).

If you're the victim of certain storms earlier this year in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Texas, you have even more time beyond the May 17 due date to file your 2020 federal income tax return (the exact date depends on the state). If there are other natural disasters between now and May 17, other Americans could have their filing deadline pushed back further, too.

If you have a federal tax refund coming, you could get paid in as little as three weeks. In the past, the IRS has issued over 90% of refunds in less than 21 days. To speed up the refund process, e-file your 2020 tax return and select the direct deposit payment method. That's the fastest way. Paper returns and checks slow things down considerably.

If for some reason you can't file your federal tax return on time, it's easy to get an automatic extension to October 15, 2021. But you have to act by May 17 to qualify. (Later dates apply for storm victims in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas). Keep in mind, however, that an extension to file doesn't extend the time to pay your tax. If you don't pay up by the original due date, you'll owe interest on the unpaid tax. You could also be hit with additional penalties for filing and paying late.

And don't forget about your state tax return. Most states synch their income tax return deadline with the federal tax due date – but there are a handful of states that have different deadlines. Plus, while most states have adjusted their filing deadlines to May 17 or later, not all states have done so. Check with the state tax agency where you live to find out exactly when your state tax return is due.

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