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April 15 is easily the most well-known tax deadline, but this year that date has been replaced by May 17 to help U.S. consumers sort out their taxes after a trying year. There are also a few other important filing dates to put on your calendar this year—especially if you're self-employed or earn any income from freelance gigs or side hustles. It's also smart to be aware of the deadline for tax extensions, just in case you need a little extra time to get square with the IRS.
Making sense of your taxes isn't always easy. Below is a roundup the most important 2021 tax deadlines to help you keep it all straight.
January 15, 2021
Final Estimated Tax Due Date for the 2020 Tax Year
If you receive a W-2 from your employer, federal and state income taxes are taken directly from your paycheck before you receive your paycheck and you can ignore this date. Things work a little differently if you're self-employed, however. Whether you run your own business, work as a freelancer or earn extra money with a side gig, the IRS expects you to pay taxes on your earnings. When your tax liability goes above a certain threshold, you'll generally make estimated tax payments to the IRS every quarter. January 15, 2021, is the last day to make your final estimated tax payment for 2020.
How much you owe can vary widely, depending on which tax deductions and tax credits you end up claiming when you file your tax return. Another factor is if you live somewhere that levies state taxes. This IRS form can help you make an accurate guess. (It's called "estimated tax" for a reason.) A tax professional can also provide personalized guidance.
February 12, 2021
IRS Begins Accepting 2020 Tax Returns
This is the day that the IRS will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax returns. Once tax season gets rolling, be on the lookout for important documents you'll need on hand when filing your tax return. These documents likely include:
- W-2s from employers (or, if you're self-employed, 1099s from clients who paid you for work).
- Documents related to contributions you made to a tax-advantaged retirement account, such as a 401(k) or traditional IRA. The same goes for contributions to a health savings account.
- Documents related to interest paid on student loans. The IRS will allow you to deduct up to $2,500 from your 2020 taxable income.
May 17, 2021
Due Date for 2020 Tax Returns, and First Estimated Tax Payment for 2021
The IRS recently extended the official deadline for filing your 2020 tax return to May 17 due to challenges taxpayers continue to face as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
If you're making estimated tax payments in 2021, this is also when your estimated tax payment is due for the income earned between January 1 and March 31.
You'll want to gather up all relevant documents ahead of this date in case you run into any unexpected delays. If you plan on working with a tax professional, keep in mind that this is probably their busiest day of the year—the sooner you begin the process, the better. For those expecting a tax refund, the IRS says you'll likely get it sooner if you file electronically and enroll in direct deposit.
June 15, 2021
Due Date for Second Estimated Tax Payment for 2021
You'll make your second estimated tax payment by June 15, 2021, this time for income earned between April 1 and May 31.
September 15, 2021
Due Date for Third Estimated Tax Payment for 2021
This estimated tax payment applies to income earned between June 1 and August 31.
October 15, 2021
Last Day to File Your 2020 Tax Return With an Extension
As the world continues its fight against a global pandemic, many people are navigating job loss, health concerns, and financial disruptions. If you're unable to file your tax return by April 15, take heart in knowing that you can file an extension and push the due date back by six months. An extension would give you until October 15 to complete all your paperwork and submit it to the IRS.
The one caveat, however, is that those who owe money to the IRS will still have to pay it by April 15. While unpaid taxes do not show up on your credit report, you may encounter hefty fees for ignoring the obligation. Fortunately, the IRS offers payment plans and short-term extensions to eligible taxpayers.
Important Tax Filing Dates for Businesses
Workers aren't the only ones who have tax deadlines. Businesses have tax obligations all their own. Here are some important dates for business owners to keep in mind this year:
- February 1, 2021: Businesses that had employees in 2020 must submit their W-2 forms to the IRS. Businesses that paid independent contractors in 2020 must submit their 1099 forms to the IRS.
- March 15, 2021: Partnerships and S-corporations must file their 2020 business tax returns.
- April 15, 2021: Deadline for corporations to file their 2020 business tax returns.
- September 15, 2021: Last day for S-corporations and partnerships to file their tax returns if they've been granted an extension.
- October 15, 2021: Final day for corporations to file a tax return if they've received an extension.
Being aware of important 2021 tax deadlines can make for a smoother tax season and help you stay on top of your tax obligations. Consider it a key part of maintaining your financial health.