What Time Was the Tax Deadline?

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

calendar showing April 15 as Tax Day
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tax Day 2024 was April 15 So, if you haven't already filed your 2023 federal income tax return (and pay any tax due), you should do so even though you missed the tax deadline. But if you were waiting until the last minute, you ought to at least know when that last minute arrived.

Paper returns – Postmark rules

Some people still fill out paper tax forms. If they owe any money with their return, they may write a paper check to the IRS for the amount due. If that's you, make sure the envelope is postmarked by April 15.

But don't expect your post office to stay open until midnight on Tax Day as they used to years ago (sometimes with bands playing and snacks available). Get there before their regular hours expire if you are hand delivering your return at the postal counter.

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For more information, see Is the Post Office Open Late on Tax Day?

E-filed returns – The stroke of midnight

If you are filing an electronic return, as most people do, you must e-file your tax forms by midnight on Tax Day. 

However, 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 the IRS if you owe taxes, electronically. It's easy using the IRS's Direct Pay service (payment directly from a bank account); the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System; or a credit card, debit card or digital wallet like PayPal (processing fees may apply). Go to the IRS's "Pay Online" webpage to get started.

Tax extensions are available

If you just cannot file your return on Tax Day for whatever reason, you can get a tax filing extension to October 15, 2024. But you have to act on Tax Day to get the extension. You can get an extension by mailing in a paper Form 4868 – postmarked by April 15 – or submitting an electronic version of the form by midnight. You can also get a filing extension by making an electronic tax payment by midnight.

Also, keep in mind that many people in states impacted by storms and natural disasters have extended IRS tax deadlines. 

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 on April 15, 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 now 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 set 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.


Rocky Mengle

Rocky Mengle was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023 with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, Rocky 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 holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.