tax deadline

What Time is the Tax Deadline Today?

If you're waiting until the last possible minute to file your tax return, you should at least know how much time you have.

Tax Day 2021 has finally arrived! Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the April 15 deadline was pushed back to May 17 this year. So, if you haven't already filed your 2020 federal income tax return (and paid any tax due), today's the day to get moving. But if you're literally waiting until the last minute, you ought to at least know when that last minute arrives.

Paper Returns – The Postmark Rules

Some people are old fashioned and still like to fill out paper tax forms. If they owe any money with their return, they're likely to write out a paper check to the IRS for the amount due. If that's you, make sure the envelope is postmarked by May 17. But don't expect your post office to stay open until midnight on Tax Day like they used to years ago (sometimes with bands playing and snacks available), so make sure you get there before their regular hours expire if you're hand delivering your return at the postal counter.

E-filed Returns – The Stroke of Midnight

If you're filing an electronic return – like over 90% of taxpayers these days – you must e-file your tax forms by midnight tonight. However, please don't wait until 11:59 p.m. to click the submit button. It can take a few minutes for your return to be successfully transmitted to the IRS and that delay can cause you to miss the deadline.

You can pay taxes electronically, too. You can use the IRS's Direct Pay service (payment directly from a bank account), the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or a credit or debit card (processing fees may apply). Go to the IRS's "Paying Your Taxes" webpage to get started.

Extensions Are Available

If you just can't file your return today for whatever reason, you can get an extension to October 15, 2021. But you have to act today to get the extension. You can get an extension by mailing in a paper Form 4868 – postmarked by May 17 – or submitting an electronic version of the form by midnight tonight. You can also get a filing extension by making an electronic tax payment by midnight.

Also keep in mind that an extension to file doesn't extend the time to pay your tax. If you don't pay the taxes you owe by the end of the day, you'll owe interest on the unpaid tax. You could also be hit with additional penalties for filing and paying late.

For more information on filing extensions, see How to Get More Time to File Your Tax Return.

If you can't pay the tax you owe, pay what you can today and then look into the various tax payment options for any amount left. You can set up a payment plan, make an "offer in compromise," or request a temporary collection delay.

State Tax Returns

Unless you live in a state with no income tax, you probably have to file a state income tax return by the end of the day, too. (Perhaps a local tax return as well.) Most states reset their tax return due dates to match up with the federal deadline, but not all of them. For find your state's tax deadlines – including those for extension requests, estimated payments, and returns for other types of taxes – check with the state tax agency where you live.

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