For information on the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, the second coronavirus relief package signed into law on December 27, 2020, please visit the “New Coronavirus Relief Package: What Does it Mean for You and a Second Stimulus Check” blog post.

Timeline for 2021 Tax Payments and Filing

After the unusual tax deadlines of 2020, things are returning to normal in 2021. Here is the tax timeline for the year:

April 15, 2021

  • Filing deadline for tax year 2020 individual returns.  Be sure to e-file or have your individual tax return postmarked by midnight. If you’re requesting an extension, your application also is due on April 15.
  • 1st-quarter 2021 estimated tax payment due.  If you pay quarterly estimated taxes because you’re self-employed or you earn other qualifying income, your Form 1040-ES is due on or before April 15.
  • Deadline for making 2020 IRA contributions.  April 15 is the deadline for contributing to a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. You can likely get an extension until October 15, 2021, to contribute to an SEP, Keogh, or other qualifying plan.

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June 15, 2021

  • 2nd-quarter 2021 estimated tax payment due.  Due date for quarterly payments by the self-employed and others required to pay estimated taxes.

Sept. 15, 2021 

  • 3rd-quarter 2021 estimated tax payment due.  Deadline for making a third quarterly payment of estimated taxes.

Oct. 15, 2021 

  • Extended individual tax returns due.  If you received a filing extension on your 2020 tax return, you need to complete it and e-file or have it postmarked by October 15, 2021.

Jan. 17, 2022 

  • 4th-quarter 2021 estimated tax payment due.  January 17, 2022 is the deadline for final quarterly payment of estimated taxes.

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Options if you Miss a Deadline

Should you miss a tax deadline, there are steps you can take to get back on track.

  1. If you didn’t file your income tax return on time, do so immediately. If you owe taxes, the IRS typically will charge a daily penalty for failure to file, failure to pay, and interest on the taxes owed. Filing a return will stop the failure to file penalty. 
  2. Paying all you owe will stop the failure to pay penalties and interest. 
  3. If you can’t afford to pay all of your tax bill, pay as much as you can to minimize the damage.

If you paid in more taxes than you owed and you are due a refund, you typically will not have to pay a penalty for late filing. You should file your return promptly so you can put that money to work paying down debt or earning interest. 

Keep in mind, the IRS does not hold tax refunds forever. Typically, you have no more than three years from the original tax filing due date to claim your refund. 

For example, if you are due a refund for tax year 2017, the window for claiming it will usually close on April 15 of 2021. If you have not claimed your refund in three years, it normally becomes the property of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

If you missed your estimated tax payment, you’ll likely face penalties and interest on the amount owed. The sum of these charges depends on the amount you owe and how long you are delinquent. Pay them right away to minimize what you owe.

What to do if you Can’t pay Your Tax Bill

Millions of people had their financial lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're among them, you might not be in position to pay your full tax bill by April 15. You should file your return on time anyway. 

The IRS will assess interest and penalties back to the filing deadline anyway, you so don’t save money by waiting to file. If you can afford to pay anything at all, you should do so to minimize penalties and interest. You can apply for an installment plan to pay the balance over time.

How to File Your Return Quickly

E-filing your tax return is the fastest way to get it to the IRS. It is also the most secure. Since your tax return is transmitted to the IRS electronically, it can’t get lost in the mail or arrive late. You'll gain peace of mind because you’ll get an electronic confirmation that the IRS has accepted your tax return and is processing it.

This is especially good news if you are expecting a refund. You even have the option of having the refund electronically direct deposited into your bank account. Typically, the IRS distributes 90% of its tax refunds in fewer than 21 days when the taxpayer combines electronic filing with direct deposit.

How to Buy Time for Filing

If haven’t left yourself enough time to complete your tax return before the deadline, don’t panic. You can always request a filing extension. You can electronically request an extension using TurboTax, or you can mail Form 4868 to the IRS. 

The IRS automatically grants a six-month extension of the income tax filing deadline to any taxpayer who requests one. The extension provides you more time to complete and file your tax return, but it does not extend the deadline for paying any tax you might owe. You should estimate how much you will owe and then pay that amount by the regular tax filing deadline—April 15, 2021 for tax year 2020.

If you live in or have a business within a region that was a federally declared disaster area, you might get extra time to file and even pay your taxes. For example, the IRS declared that taxpayers who were affected by the September 2020 wildfires in California would have more time to file and pay their federal taxes. Taxpayers within the federal disaster area who had gotten extensions until October 15, 2020, for their 2019 tax returns were given until January 15, 2021, to file their taxes.

Let TurboTax make filing easy

Rather than scrambling to complete you tax return, you can let TurboTax guide you through the process by asking simple questions about your income tax situation. TurboTax helps you complete the right forms to obtain every deduction you’re entitled to receive and save every dollar you deserve.

Should you have questions while completing your return, you can connect with a TurboTax Live tax expert to get unlimited tax advice. You can even have a tax expert or CPA do your taxes for you from start to finish and file them on your behalf.