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When to File Taxes

Knowing when to file taxes can help you avoid late fees or other penalties. The due date for filing your income tax return for the prior year is typically April 15 (or within a few days, if it happens to fall on a weekend). See Step-by-Step Guide to Filing Your Federal Taxes for a more in-depth guide.

Dates are slightly different for each year but due dates for filing a return with or without an extension of time, follow a predictable pattern:

  • Filing deadline without an extension is April 15 (or the following business day, if the date is a weekend or holiday)
  • If you applied for an extension, you typically have until October 15, or the following business day, if it falls on a weekend or holiday (see also Filing Late Returns FAQ)

If you use a fiscal year (a year ending on the last day of any month except December, or a 52-53-week year), your income tax return is due by the 15th day of the 4th month after the close of your fiscal year.

When the due date for doing any act for tax purposes—filing a return, paying taxes, etc.—falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day.

Filing Extension Is Not a Payment Extension

If you apply for an extension, the extension only applies to the filing deadline. An extension does not give you more time to pay your taxes. If you owe money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the payment and any late fees will be assessed from the April 15th due date, not from the extension due date.

The extension form 4868 for individual income tax returns requires an estimate of your total tax liability. Taxpayers are required to pay the estimated total tax liability, minus any payments, by the regular tax filing deadline of April 15. Any payments made after the April 15th deadline are subject to interest and late payment penalties.

Filing on Time

If you still file a paper tax return, it is considered to be filed on time if it is mailed in an envelope that is properly addressed, has enough postage, and is postmarked by the due date. If you send your return by registered mail, the date of the registration is the postmark date. The registration is evidence that the return was delivered.

If you send a return by certified mail and have your receipt postmarked by a postal employee, the date on the receipt is the postmark date. The postmarked certified mail receipt is evidence that the return was delivered.

Private Delivery Services. If you use a private delivery service designated by the IRS to send your return, the postmark date is generally the date the private delivery service records in its database or marks on the mailing label. The private delivery service can tell you how to get written proof of this date.

When to File Taxes: Electronically Filed Returns

If you use IRS e-file, your return is considered filed on time if the authorized electronic return transmitter postmarks the transmission by the due date. An authorized electronic return transmitter is a participant in the IRS e-file program that transmits electronic tax return information directly to the IRS.

The electronic postmark is a record of when the authorized electronic return transmitter received the transmission of your electronically filed return on its host system. The date and time in your time zone control whether your electronically filed return is timely. You should receive an email or electronic notice that the IRS has received your e-filed tax return.

Late Filing Penalties

If you miss the filing deadline, you may be subject to tax penalties. If you file your return after the filing deadline, the IRS can charge a late filing penalty of 5% of the amount due each month the return is late, up to a maximum of 25%. The IRS will assess interest on your tax payment from the regular due date of your return, even if you qualify for an extension. A late payment penalty may also apply to any tax, other than estimated tax, that is not paid by the due date.

COVID-19 Filing Extensions

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the Treasury Department and IRS extended the deadlines for both filing and paying personal income taxes. For tax year 2019 to be filed in 2020, the tax deadline was extended by 3 months, to July 15, 2020. For tax year 2020 to be filed in 2021, the deadline for payment and filing was extended by one month, to May 17, 2021. There were only temporary changes in the deadline.

Tax Advice for Filing Deadlines

It is important to be aware of the filing, extension, and payment deadlines when handling your taxes. A late payment could result in penalties and interest. Failing to file could be even more costly. Consider speaking with a tax attorney or accountant if you have additional questions about when to file taxes or which forms to use.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified tax attorney to help you navigate your federal and/or state tax issues.

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