When the coronavirus pandemic hit in full force in March, it upended normal life in a very meaningful way. Businesses were forced to shut down. Schools closed for in-person learning all over the country. And countless families were left scrambling to pay their bills.
Given that chaos, the IRS made what many agree was a smart and reasonable decision -- to postpone 2020's tax-filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. Not only were taxpayers given an extra three months to submit their returns, but they also got three more months to pay any tax debt they owed without incurring interest or penalties.
Of course, one year later, we're only in a modestly better place as far as the pandemic goes. Sure, there are vaccines, but the majority of Americans have yet to receive one, and COVID-19 cases are still exploding all over the country. As such, you may be wondering if the IRS will extend this year's tax-filing deadline as a courtesy.
Unfortunately, filers won't get any extra time this year to tackle their tax returns. The IRS has confirmed this week that it will not, in fact, be pushing back the April 15 deadline this year. If you haven't begun to give your taxes some thought, now's the time to get moving.
Though life is hardly back to normal for most of us, last year, a big reason the IRS moved the tax-filing deadline back was because the pandemic caught everyone by surprise. At this point, it's been with us for roughly a year, so most people have ample opportunity to get their taxes done by the April 15 deadline -- especially given the number of tax professionals who have shifted to remote services.
That said, this certainly isn't the year to dawdle when it comes to filing your taxes. A lot of people are struggling financially, and if you think you're owed money from the IRS, the sooner you submit your return, the sooner you'll get it.
Generally, tax refunds for electronically filed returns are issued within three weeks of receipt. Refunds for paper returns can take a lot longer -- especially this year, given that as of late 2020, the IRS still had a major backlog of paper returns to go through. If you want your money sooner, filing electronically is the way to go.
You'll also need to file a tax return this year if you were entitled to a stimulus payment based on your income but never received one. And the sooner you do, the faster you'll get that money.
Of course, if you find that you need more time to get your taxes done this year, you can always request an extension from the IRS. An extension will buy you six more months to file your taxes, but it won't extend the deadline to pay -- that will hold steady at April 15. As such, if you get an extension and owe money but don't pay it until mid-October, you'll accrue six months of penalties and interest.
Though the IRS usually starts accepting tax returns in late January, this year, the start of the tax season was delayed until February 12. But at this point, you're free to go ahead and submit your return. The sooner you do, the better.