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When are taxes due in 2021?

Most taxpayers have until May 17 this year, but this could vary depending on your situation.

Tax deadlines vary depending on the type of tax return you file. Here’s a quick rundown of when you can expect to pay taxes this year — and tips on what to do if you miss the deadline.

Tax filing and payment deadline

On March 17, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it was pushing back the deadline to file individual 2020 federal tax returns from April 15 to May 17. The IRS made this change to give Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic more time to file and pay their taxes.

This move means that you now have until May 17 to file and pay your taxes without facing any penalties or getting charged interest on what you owe. If you were planning to file for an extension, the deadline to pay and file for an extension has changed to May 17, but the tax return due date is still October 15 if your request is approved. Estimated tax deadlines are still due on April 15.

State tax filing extensions and penalty waivers

Typically, state tax returns and payments are due April 15 — though some states have longer deadlines. At this point, it’s unclear if all states will push their deadlines to file state taxes back until May 17, though most are expected to. Check the website for your state’s Department of Revenue (or its equivalent office) to find out if your state has extended its deadline.

How to file a tax extension

Tax deadlines due for 2020 returns

Generally, federal taxes are due in the spring and extensions are due in the fall. But the specific dates depend on the type of tax return you file.

Type of tax returnFiling deadlineExtension deadline
Individual income tax returnsMay 17, 2021October 15, 2021
Partnership returnsMarch 15, 2021September 15, 2021
Estates and trusts income tax returnApril 15, 2021October 15, 2021
Gift tax returnsApril 15, 2021October 15, 2021
C-corporation tax returnsApril 15, 2021October 15, 2021
S-corporation tax returnsMarch 15, 2021September 15, 2021
Foreign bank account returnsApril 15, 2021October 15, 2021

An extension to file doesn’t extend the due date for taxes you owe. If you’re granted an extension until October 15, any federal taxes you owe are still due on the filing deadline date.

Learn how to file an extension and what it means to file one.

When are quarterly estimated taxes due?

If you’re self-employed or work as an independent contractor, you’ll need to make quarterly estimated payments. This is because payroll taxes aren’t withheld from your paycheck as they are in a W-2 job.

If you’re expected to owe at least $1,000 in federal taxes and you fail to make quarterly estimated payments, you’ll incur penalties and interest charges. Here’s a breakdown of when those payments are due:

If you earned income during these months……taxes are due on
January, February, MarchApril 15, 2021
April, May, JuneJune 15, 2021
July, August, SeptemberSeptember 15, 2021
October, November, DecemberJanuary 15, 2022

What happens if I miss my tax deadline?

The type of penalty you’ll pay depends on your circumstances. The chart below breaks down two common penalty types and how much you could owe:

Penalty typeWhat it meansPenalty amount
Failure to fileYou didn’t file your tax return by the original or extended due dateIf filed within 60 days of deadline:
  • 5% each month the tax goes unpaid, up to 25%

If filed after 60 days of deadline:

  • $435 or 100% of taxes owed, whichever is less
Failure to payYou didn’t pay your taxes in full by the original due date0.5% each month the tax goes unpaid, up to 25% of the total owed

The key to reducing your penalties and interest is to file and pay your federal taxes as soon as you can. If you wait to pay and file past the deadline, you could pay a penalty equal to 47.5% of the tax due — a 22.5% late filing and a 25% late payment penalty.

Compare online tax filing services

Name Product Federal returns starting price State returns starting price Maximum return guaranteed? Free options available? Photo import of W2? Live chat?
H&R Block
File simply and securely with tax software from H&R Block.
File federal returns for free and pay $14.99 for state returns with this online tax preparation software.
Keeper Tax
Keeper Tax helps people with 1099 income automatically find tax write-offs among their purchases. At tax time, file federal and state directly for $89 or export to file elsewhere for $39.
Jackson Hewitt
File taxes online or in-person for a no-fee refund advance loan. But watch out for high filing fees
Intuit TurboTax
File returns electronically and get taken step by step through the tax-filing process, so that you can receive the fastest refund possible for yourself, and/or your business.
Liberty Tax
Choose from EZ, Basic, Deluxe, and Premium packages to support the simplest or the most complicated of returns; including business and investments.
TaxSlayer offers free federal and state filing for simple returns and $0 federal return to service members filing with a military EIN.

Compare up to 4 providers

How do I find out how much I owe in taxes?

Taxpayers who file their returns before the tax deadline will know how much they owe as soon as they complete their form. Those who request an extension need to estimate their payments beforehand.

There are two main ways to estimate your tax payment. You can use an online calculator from a tax software company’s website, such as TurboTax or H&R Block. Or, you can use last year’s return to estimate your payment if your tax situation hasn’t changed.

If you owe more than you were hoping, you might want to adjust your tax withholdings to prevent this same thing from happening next year.

Are there ways to reduce my penalties and interest?

The IRS offers several payment and relief options for those who can’t pay back all or part of their taxes.

Payment options

If you’re behind on paying your federal taxes, the IRS offers two types of installment plans. You can set up these plans either online, by phone, mail or in person.

Payment planEligibilityPayment termFees
Short-term paymentIndividual filer and owe up to $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest.Within 120 days
  • $0 setup fee
  • Penalties and fees still apply
Long-term paymentIndividual filer and owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest.More than 120 days
  • For automatic withdrawals: $31 setup fee or $0 for low-income taxpayers
  • For nondirect debit: $149 setup fee or $43 for low-income taxpayers
  • Penalties and fees still apply
Relief options

Here’s a breakdown of two relief options offered by the IRS, along with eligibility requirements.

  • Reasonable cause. If you’ve experienced some type of hardship — such as a death in the family, natural disaster or medical trauma — you can fill out IRS Form 843 and apply for a penalty refund for taxes paid in the past one to three years. You’ll need to provide thorough documentation to support your claim. If the IRS denies your request, you can make an appeal.
  • First-time penalty abatement. The IRS may waive penalties if you meet these three requirements: you filed your tax return on time, you’re current on your tax bill or have a payment plan in place and you haven’t had any penalties in the past three years.

Bottom line

Your tax deadline depends on your return type and whether you filed for an extension. If you owed taxes and missed your deadline, explore your payment and relief options. Then, make a plan to pay them off as soon as possible.

Trying to decide whether you should file your taxes through an online software or professional? Explore our guide on how to file your taxes.

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