What's the Deadline for Filing Your 2021 Taxes?

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  • The IRS has set a deadline for when tax forms must be filed.
  • The deadline this year is April 18, slightly different from the usual April 15.
  • Missing the filing deadline could have financial implications.

Missing the tax deadline could have consequences.

Filing taxes is a responsibility that falls upon most Americans. And you can't just file your forms whenever you want. The IRS establishes a deadline that you need to comply with each year to avoid potential penalties.

So, what's the deadline for the 2021 tax year? Here's what you need to know about the timeline for sending in your forms.

This year's tax deadline

Taxes for 2021 are filed in 2022. The IRS began accepting returns for the prior tax year on Jan. 24, 2022, but the deadline for submitting returns is not until April 18. This is the last date when returns must be filed and unpaid taxes must be paid to the IRS to avoid possible penalties.

Normally, the tax deadline is actually a bit earlier, usually falling on April 15. However, if the 15th is either a weekend day or a holiday, then the tax deadline is pushed to the next business day. That's what will happen this year.

As the IRS explained in its recent press release, Washington, D.C., holidays affect the tax deadline. Since Emancipation Day is a Washington holiday, and it falls on Friday, April 15, this means taxes must be pushed to the next business day. And in this case, that's Monday, April 18.

Taxpayers in certain states, including Maine and Massachusetts, actually get until April 19 to file this year because of the Patriots' Day holiday that is celebrated in those locations.

Make sure to file taxes on time -- or request an extension

If you expect that you will not be able to file your taxes by the April 18 deadline, you have another option: You can request a timely extension to file your returns. If you make the request prior to April 18, it's typically automatically granted, so you will have extra time to get your paperwork done.

If you request an extension and it's approved, your new tax deadline will be Monday Oct. 17, 2022. But to be clear, this is the deadline to file -- you will still have to pay your taxes (often an estimated amount) by the April 18 deadline, even if you are given until October to submit your paperwork. If you don't pay on time, you could get hit with penalties and interest for not submitting the money you owe the IRS on schedule.

The failure-to-file penalty, however, is much larger than the failure-to-pay penalty, so it's best to deal with the paperwork and get your returns in quickly even if you know you'll fall short of being able to pay the full amount of taxes due.

If you can file your returns but are unable to pay the bill, you may have some options, including signing up for a payment plan with the IRS. You could also consider using a 0% APR credit card to pay your taxes. If you can pay off the card's balance before interest is charged, this can sometimes be a far cheaper option than paying the IRS late or using its payment plan -- even though you will have to pay a processing fee to pay your taxes with a credit card.

The important thing is to know the tax deadline and follow it so you can claim any refund that is due or to avoid the financial consequences that come from not fulfilling your IRS obligations.

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