Time is running out if you haven't filed your 2021 federal income tax return yet. This year's tax filing deadline is April 18 for most people – that's today! (The deadline is April 19 for residents of Maine (opens in new tab) and Massachusetts (opens in new tab).) But filing your federal tax return isn't the only thing you should be thinking about today – there are a few more tax deadlines to worry about, too.
You might have to take some action today if you're self-employed, saving for retirement or college, have a health savings account, or employ a nanny. There are other reasons why you might have a tax-related deadline today, too. And, of course, overlooking a tax deadline could cost you money – either in additional taxes, penalties, or interest. So, as a quick reminder, here are 10 tax deadlines for today that you don't want to miss. Check them out to see if something unexpected applies to you.
Federal Income Tax Returns
Of course, the biggest due date on the tax calendar each year is the one for your federal personal income tax return. Like most of the tax deadlines on our list, it usually falls on April 15 but was pushed back to April 18 this year because of a local holiday in Washington, D.C. Another holiday in Maine and Massachusetts extends the deadline to April 19 for residents of those two states.
This year, you must file your return for the 2021 tax year – in other words, for the income you received from January 1 to December 31, 2021 (unless you're a fiscal-year filer, which is rare). Use Form 1040 (opens in new tab) and the related schedules to report your 2021 income, adjustments, and credits. We recommend filing your return electronically – as opposed to using a paper form and mailing it in – because the return will be processed much faster. This is especially true this year, since the IRS is dealing with a large backlog of returns. If you're getting a tax refund, you'll also get your money much faster if you e-file your return. Opting for direct deposit over a paper check will speed up your refund, too.
If you can't file your income tax return on time, you can get an extension until October 17. However, to get the extension, you must request it by the end of the day today (residents of Maine or Massachusetts have through tomorrow). To make the request, either file Form 4868 (opens in new tab) or make an electronic tax payment.
Just remember that the extension to file your return doesn't extend the time to pay your tax. You still have to estimate the amount of tax you'll owe and pay your tax bill by midnight tonight. If you don't act in time, the IRS will charge you interest on the unpaid balance and hit you with late-payment penalties.
For more information, including extension details for Americans living abroad and people serving in a combat zone, see How to Get More Time to File Your Tax Return.
Estimated Tax Payments
Although we only have to file an income tax return once each year, Uncle Sam expects you to pay your taxes throughout the year as you earn income. If you're working for a business, those tax payments are withheld from your paycheck and sent to the IRS by your employer. But if you're self-employed or have income from other sources that aren't subject to withholding, then it's up to you to make quarterly estimated tax payments during the year.
The first estimated tax payment for 2022 is due today. This payment is for the estimated amount of taxes owed for income received from January 1 to March 31, 2022. Use Form 1040-ES (opens in new tab) to calculate and pay your estimated taxes. If at least two-thirds of your gross income is from farming or fishing, you can make just one estimated tax payment for the 2022 tax year by January 17, 2023. If you don't pay enough tax during the year – either through estimated payments or withholding – the IRS could hit you with a stiff penalty.
For more information, including other estimated tax payment deadlines during the year, see When Are 2022 Estimated Tax Payments Due?
IRA Contributions for 2021
If you want to put more money in an IRA and have it count towards your 2021 contributions, you have until the end of the day today to make that move (through tomorrow for residents of Maine and Massachusetts). That's because you have until your tax return filing deadline for the year to fund an IRA for that year. But remember that there are limits to the amount you can contribute to an IRA each year. For 2021, you can put away up to $6,000 in an IRA – $7,000 if you're age 50 or older.
If you haven't already maxed out your 2021 IRA contributions, doing so before today's tax deadline can be a smart move. First, contributions to a traditional IRA are often tax deductible, while withdrawals from a Roth IRA are tax-free. So, whether you contribute to a traditional or a Roth IRA, you can cut your tax bill now or in the future.
Low- and moderate-income people who contribute to an IRA might also qualify for the Saver's Credit, which can be worth as much as $1,000 ($2,000 for joint filers).
If you contribute to an IRA for 2021 by today's tax filing deadline, you can claim the IRA deduction and/or the Saver's Credit on your 2021 tax return. That means you can get the tax benefits immediately, instead of waiting until next year if you were to contribute the same amount after today (after tomorrow for people living in Maine or Massachusetts).
Also note that the tax return filing deadline is also the last day to withdraw any excess 2021 contributions to your IRAs (if you didn't request a filing extension). So, if you put in more than the $6,000 limit ($7,000 if you're 50 or older), take it out now to avoid stiff penalties.
Solo 401(k) and SEP Contributions for 2021
Self-employed people saving for retirement have until the end of the day today (April 18) to put money away in a Solo 401(k) plan or Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA for 2021 (the end of April 19 for residents of Maine or Massachusetts). If they request a tax return filing extension, the deadline shifts to October 17.
For 2021, a self-employed person can contribute up to $58,000 to a Solo 401(k) – $64,500 if he or she is age 50 or older. (Those amounts go up to $61,000 and $67,500, respectively, for 2022.) These amounts are so high because you can make contributions as both an employee and an employer, although the April 18 deadline only applies to the "employer contributions."
The SEP IRA contribution limit for 2021 is $58,000 ($61,000 for 2022). Only the employer can contribute to a SEP IRA, and whatever percentage of compensation employers set aside in the plan for themselves is the same percentage of pay they must contribute for each eligible employee.
Contributions to both Solo 401(k)s and SEP IRAs are deductible – at least to a point. Contributions made to a Solo 401(k) as an employer are deductible business expenses. However, the deduction can't be more than 25% of the compensation paid (or accrued) during the year to eligible employees participating in the plan. If you're self-employed, you must reduce this limit for contributions you make for your own account.
For a SEP IRA, the most you can deduct on a 2021 tax return for contributions to your or your employee's account is the lesser of (1) your contributions, or (2) 25% of the compensation (limited to $290,000 per participant) paid to the participants during the year from the business that has the plan, not to exceed $58,000 per participant. (In 2022, these amounts increase to $305,000 and $61,000, respectively.) If you contribute to your own SEP-IRA, you must make a special computation to figure your maximum deduction for the contributions.
HSA and Archer MSA Contributions for 2021
If you have a health savings account (HSA) or Archer medical savings account (MSA) as part of your health insurance plan, today is the last day you can contribute to the account for 2021 (Maine and Massachusetts residents have until the end of the day tomorrow).
For 2021, you can contribute up to $3,600 to an HSA if you have self-only coverage or up to $7,200 for family coverage. (For 2022 figures and other 2021 limits, see HSA Contribution Limits and Other Requirements.) For an Archer MSA, you or your employer can contribute up to 75% of the annual deductible of your high deductible health plan (65% if you have a self-only plan), although you can't contribute more than you earned for the year from the employer through whom you have your HDHP.
Plus, you may qualify for a deduction on your 2021 tax return for contributions to your HSA or Archer MSA (complete Form 8889 (opens in new tab) for the HSA deduction and Form 8853 (opens in new tab) for the Archer MSA deduction). If you can claim one of these deductions, think about putting more money into the account for 2021 before today's deadline expires if you haven't already reached the contribution limit. That's especially true if you plan to make a contribution soon anyway. That way, you'll get that extra deduction for 2021 and save more cap space for 2022 contributions. That's a win, win!
Coverdell ESA Contributions for 2021
People saving for retirement or medical expenses have until the end of today to contribute to 2021 accounts – but what about people saving for college? If you're using a Coverdell Education Saving Account (ESA) to squirrel away money for college, then you also have until the end of the day to put more money away in the account for 2021.
With a Coverdell ESA, you can't contribute more than $2,000 for any particular child. Plus, if your modified AGI is between $95,000 and $110,000 (between $190,000 and $220,000 for joint filers), the $2,000 limit for each child is gradually reduced to zero.
There's no deduction for contributions to a Coverdell ESA. However, money deposited in a Coverdell ESA grows tax free, and there's no tax on distributions used for qualified college expenses. So, the earlier you get money into the account, the more time it has to grow before the child is off to college.
Payroll Taxes for Household Employees
If you employ a nanny, babysitter, maid, gardener or other household worker, but you aren't filing a federal income tax return (Form 1040), you must file Schedule H (opens in new tab) and pay 2021 employment taxes for your household workers by the end of the day today (April 18). If you do file a tax return, include Schedule H with the return and report the tax owed on Schedule 2 (Form 1040), Line 9.
Both you and the employee may owe social security and Medicare taxes. You're responsible for payment of the employee's share of the taxes as well as your own. You can either withhold your worker's share from his or her wages or pay it out of your own pocket.
Your share is 7.65% of the employee's wages (6.2% for Social Security tax and 1.45% for Medicare tax). Your employee owes the same amount. The limit on wages subject to social security tax was $142,800 for 2021 ($147,000 for 2022), but there's no limit on wages subject to the Medicare tax. Household employees also owe a 0.9% additional Medicare tax on wages exceeding $200,000 for the year. The additional tax is only imposed on the employee, but you have to withhold it from his or her wages and pay it to the IRS.
Claim for 2018 Tax Refund
According to the IRS, there's almost $1.5 billion in unclaimed refunds from the 2018 tax year. That money belongs to about 1.5 million Americans who didn't file a 2018 tax return, but who had taxes withheld or otherwise paid them during 2018. If some of that unclaimed cash is yours, you must act today to get what you're owed.
To get the refund, you have to file a 2018 tax return with the IRS. If you don't have/can't get W-2, 1099, or other forms needed to complete the 2018 return, you can get a wage and income "transcript" from the IRS that includes the necessary data from information returns received by the IRS (although it might be too late at this point). This information can be used to file your 2018 tax return.
There's a chance that you might not get all the refund money you're expecting, though. For example, the IRS could take your 2018 refund to pay taxes you owe for other years or to pay off certain other debts. For more information on claiming a 2018 refund, see Claim Your 2018 Tax Refund Now – Or Lose It Forever.
State Tax Returns
You also might have more to worry about than just federal taxes. Unless you live in a state with no income tax, you probably have to file a state income tax return today, too. (Perhaps a local tax return as well.)
In most states, the deadline for file a state income tax return is the same as the federal due date. But there are a few states that have a different due date.
For state tax deadlines – including those for extension requests, estimated payments, and returns for other types of taxes – check with the state tax agency (opens in new tab) where you live.
Rocky is a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, he worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky has a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.
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