For many people, just thinking about tax season is enough to make them reach for a bottle of aspirin. Luckily for you, once you properly prepare and file, you’re golden!
But to make it to that glorious post-filing bliss, you’ve got to keep in mind the tax deadlines that apply to your situation. One thing is for sure—you don’t want to wait until the last minute to get organized. We get it, it’s annoying, but you’ll be able to head into the season feeling good by getting ahead of these important dates.
When Is Tax Day?
Tax Day 2021 is May 17 for all federal tax returns and payments. This is only for federal returns, not quarterly estimated taxes or state taxes (if applicable).
Tax Day for those filing personal and corporate federal tax returns is usually April 15. The only time it gets tricky is if April 15 falls on a weekend or legal holiday. If that happens, then Tax Day usually falls on the next business day. This is also the last date to request a six-month extension if you can't file on the due date.
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It also gets tricky if Tax Day falls during, oh, I don’t know, the onset of a global pandemic. You may remember that among countless other things, the 2020 tax season was a little wonky due to the coronavirus outbreak. In 2020, Tax Day moved from its faithful mid-April date to July 15 for the first time in awhile, giving filers an extra three months to file and pay any taxes owed for the 2019 tax year.1
Now, for anyone snail-mailing their returns, it’s considered to be filed on time if the envelope is addressed correctly, has plenty of postage, and is postmarked and dropped in the mail on Tax Day. For those of you filing online, the date and time in your time zone when you click “submit” is what determines if your return is filed on time. Don't worry—you’ll receive an electronic confirmation that the IRS has accepted your digitally filed return. Hooray!2
For those living overseas or who are on military duty outside of the United States, you have an automatic two-month extension to get your taxes filed without needing to request one. So in a normal tax year (April 15), you technically have until June 15 to file and send in payment without being hit with a penalty. But, of course, there’s a catch—you still have to pay interest on any owed taxes not paid by the original due date of April 15.3 (Whomp, whomp.) We recommend just getting ahead of the game and sticking to the regular date to avoid paying Uncle Sam any more than you absolutely have to.
When Is the Deadline to Pay Your Taxes?
Well, that depends on your filing status. If you’re filing an individual federal tax return, that’s easy. Your deadline to file and pay is the annual Tax Day, as mentioned above.
If you’re self-employed, you’ll most likely pay estimated taxes four times a year (these are also known as quarterly taxes).
What Happens if You Can’t File by the Deadline?
If, for some reason, you’re not able to file by your tax due date, you can get a six-month extension by filling out Form 4868. Just make sure you do this by the deadline of your tax return due date. If you file late without an extension, you’ll pay a penalty that can be as much as 5% of your unpaid taxes each month up to a maximum of 25%.
Keep in mind—and this is really important—even if you’ve requested an extension to file, that doesn’t mean that you have an extension to pay. (Bummer, right?) You still need to send in your tax payment to the IRS on your file due date. The last thing you want is to get hit with a penalty for paying late, which can be between 0.5% and 25% of those unpaid taxes. No thanks!4
When Are Tax Extensions Due?
For most people, the tax extension due date is Oct. 15 (six months after April 15). But if you’ve got a different file due date, then your extension due date will be different too. Whatever your situation, we recommend you get your taxes filed sooner rather than later. It can make all the difference in how much you’ll end up having to shell out to Uncle Sam. If you need help filing an extension, turn to a tax pro. They’ll know the deadlines and procedures like the back of their hand and can walk you through the process.
What happens if you don’t file by the extension due date? You’re going to owe money unnecessarily—and that would be dumb. We want you to conquer Tax Day, not the other way around.
Get Your Taxes Right
If the idea of tackling your taxes has you running for the hills, we get it. It can be a lot to figure out all by yourself. The great news is that you don’t have to go at it alone. A tax Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) can walk you through the process from beginning to end. Our tax pros have years of proven experience and can help remove the headache and stress of filing so you can feel confident your taxes are done right!
If your taxes are simple enough to handle on your own, but you just dread dealing with clunky tax software and getting hit with hidden fees, then say hello to Ramsey SmartTax. Our tax software was designed with you in mind. That means with Ramsey SmartTax, there are no hidden fees, no gimmicks, no games.