There’s some good news for those of you who are feeling overburdened right now: The IRS and has announced that it is extending the federal tax deadline for 2020 tax returns to May 17. This pushes back the federal tax deadline from April 15 and gives tax filers just over an extra month to file and pay their taxes. Announcing the move, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said, “this continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities.”
The delay comes after a number of professional accounting bodies and lawmakers urged the IRS to do so given the challenges so many Americans are under from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. You should always contact a tax professional if you have questions about your taxes, but, generally speaking, here’s what the delay means for most Americans:
- It’s automatic: The 2020 federal tax deadline is automatically extended from April 15 to May 17, 2021. You do not need to file for any kind of extension to get this extra time to do your taxes.
- You get an extra month to pay your taxes, too: Not only is the deadline to file extended, but so is the deadline to pay any taxes owed. Normally when you file for an extension to file your tax return, penalties and interest will apply to any taxes owed that were not paid by April 15. But under the automatic extension, any taxes due are also postponed from April 15 to May 17, 2021.
- Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas residents have until June 15: In February, due to the winter storms that lashed Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, the IRS announced residents of those states would get an extra two months to file their federal tax returns. That deadline still stands. Residents of Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas have until June 15 to file their returns. They do not get any additional time past the June 15 deadline just because the IRS is giving the rest of the country an extra month to file their returns.
- You might still have to file state returns by April 15: The IRS notes that its May 17 extension only applies to federal tax returns. States’ filing requirements haven’t necessarily changed. That means it’s important to check with your state tax office to see if there’s an extension for filing your state return or if it’s still due at the regular time.
Finally, you may be wondering how the postponed tax filing deadline affects your third stimulus check, which began going out to people yesterday. The good news is the tax deadline extension gives the IRS some breathing room, too, which will allow it to focus more on getting those stimulus checks out the door.
But the delay also means it could, in theory, affect the amount of your stimulus check. This is because the IRS looks at the amount of your adjusted gross income (AGI) from your latest tax return to determine how much your check will be for. If the IRS does not have your 2020 return, they will use your AGI from your 2019 return. If you made around the same amount both years, this shouldn’t affect the size of your stimulus check. However, if you made significantly less in 2020 or had more dependents in 2020 than you did on your 2019 return, you could be seeing a larger stimulus check—but only if the IRS has received your 2020 tax return with the up-to-date details.
What all this means is, if you want to ensure you get the full amount of stimulus funds you are due, you should file your federal 2020 tax return as soon as you are able. While you now have until May 17, you don’t need to wait until then to file.