Filing and paying your individual income taxes can be stressful under any circumstances. Changes to employment status, the receipt of COVID-19 stimulus relief payments, and unemployment benefits for the 2020 tax year may be adding to the tax filing uncertainty and stress for some taxpayers this year. Regardless of how complex your taxes are, it is important to understand – and meet – your federal tax filing deadlines and any applicable state or local filing deadlines.
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Will the individual tax deadline be extended in 2021?
The federal income tax filing deadline for individuals in 2020, filing for the tax year ended December 31, 2019, was automatically extended by three months, from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the pandemic is ongoing and the IRS now has new stimulus payments to distribute, the IRS has now extended the tax filing deadline for individual filers for the 2020 tax filing year. This means that most individuals in the U.S. must pay taxes owed and file their income tax returns, or request extensions of time to file their returns, no later than May 17, 2021.
What is the extended tax return deadline for individuals hurt by the severe winter storm in February?
Much of the U.S. saw prolonged arctic chills and winter storms in February. Some southern states were not equipped to weather the severe storms they sustained, leading to widespread power outages, water shortages, and catastrophic losses. Because of this, the IRS announced on February 22, 2021 that it was extending the tax return filing and payment deadlines for individuals in affected areas, including the entire state of Texas.
Covered individuals now have until June 15, 2021 to file their individual income tax returns and to pay any taxes owed for the 2020 tax year. In addition, individuals in the affected areas can also make 2020 IRA contributions as late as June 15, 2021.
Which states are covered by the winter storm tax extension and who will qualify for the extension?
If you live in any of the 254 counties in the state of Texas, you are automatically covered by the 60-day extension to file your federal income tax return for 2020. In addition, residents outside of Texas but who live in areas covered by disaster declarations issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will also receive the same automatic extension, providing tax filing and payment relief.
Taxpayers who live in an area that has not received a FEMA disaster declaration but whose tax records are located in such an area can contact the IRS to request case-specific relief.
How do I request a regular tax extension to file my 2020 taxes?
It is relatively simple to get an automatic six-month extension of time to file your 2020 federal income tax return with the IRS. However, understand that an extension of time to file your taxes does not give you an extension of time to pay your taxes. Given the new IRS extension for individual filers, those who need more time beyond the new May 17, 2021 deadline can file for an extension to October 15, 2021. This extension will allow for the filing of returns by October 15, 2021, but payment of taxes owed will still be due by May 17, 2021 to avoid penalties and interest.
You can request a filing extension at any point up until the tax filing deadline, which is now May 17, 2021. There are a couple ways to go about filing for an extension:
- Use the IRS Free File system to request an extension electronically; or
- Download, complete, and return IRS Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) through a tax professional or tax software.
Rocket Lawyer On Call® Attorneys Can Answer Your Questions
No matter how simple or straightforward you think your tax situation is, the process of completing and filing forms with the IRS and other tax authorities can be overwhelming. Making inadvertent errors can result in unwanted penalties and interest on amounts owed to the IRS. Fortunately, help is available. Reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney with your tax law questions and receive tailored guidance and answers to your specific circumstances.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.