With 2021 well underway, tax day is quickly approaching. Tax time can be stressful and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some quick facts and key dates to keep in mind so you can make informed decisions about filing your return and avoid missing the tax filing deadline.
A Brief History of April 15th
Arguably the most important tax-filing deadline in 2021 is April 15th. That’s when most business and all individual returns must be filed. Returns postmarked through April 15th will be accepted as on-time, while those postmarked later will be considered late and will be assessed a penalty.
But April 15th wasn’t always tax day. The U.S. established income tax with the 16th Amendment, enacted in 1913. At that time, the deadline for filing was March 1st. Five years later, in 1918, the deadline was moved to March 15th, and in 1955 it was moved again to the current date of April 15th.
When Is the Tax-Filing Deadline Moved from the 15th?
There are some special circumstances under which the IRS can alter the April 15 tax filing deadline. For example, if April 15th falls on a Sunday, returns postmarked Monday, April 16th will be considered on time. Also, significant weather events have been known to affect the filing deadline. An ice storm in 2017, for example, caused the IRS to extend the tax-filing deadline by several days to allow those affected by the weather to get to their local post office. In 2020, the tax filing deadline was pushed back to July 15th due to COVID-19. At this time, the tax filing deadline in April 2021 had not been pushed back; it remains April 15th.
Need More Time? File an Extension!
Can’t meet the tax filing deadline in April 2021? You may file for an extension at any time up to April 15th. An extension typically grants you an additional 6 months to complete and submit your tax return. You must file for your extension prior to the 2021 tax filing deadline of April 15th, as the IRS will not honor extension requests made after that date. Keep in mind that in addition to filing an extension, you will need to make estimated payments to cover any taxes owed. Fines are possible for underpayment of estimated tax owed.
Is April 15 the Filing Deadline for All Individuals and Businesses?
While April 15th is the filing deadline for all individual and most business returns, it is not without exception. Businesses and contractors filing quarterly estimated taxes must submit their final 2021 estimated return by March 15, 2021.
When Can One Begin Filing Taxes?
Employers typically begin sending out tax forms (like the W-2 and 1099) in January or February. When you’ve received your tax documents from all your employers for the prior tax year, you may file your return. Incomplete documentation will slow the processing of your return, and you may be asked to provide supplementary information if you fail to submit your documents in full. Keeping in mind that the tax filing deadline for April 2021 will not be extended.
Is There a Benefit to Filing Early?
If you believe you’re due a refund, you may choose to file your return early (provided all tax documents from your employers for the prior year are included). The more quickly your return is processed, the more likely you’ll receive your refund promptly. So why not beat the rush?
Do I Have to File Electronically?
As a taxpayer, you have the right to file either electronically or using hard copy forms. Most tax preparers will file electronically on your behalf, then provide you with a hard-copy version of your full return. Filing electronically does have some advantages over manual filing. Electronic filing tends to be more accurate, easier for the IRS to process, and easier to research if you (or they) have questions. You also may get your refund faster if you file electronically!
If I Don’t Owe Taxes, Do I Still Need to File?
Yes, even if you owe nothing, the IRS requires that you meet all the important tax filing deadlines in April 2021. Returns that require no payment and are due, no refund must still be received at the IRS postmarked no later than April 15, 2021. Also, if you, your family, or your business has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, you’ll need to file your 2021 return in order to claim any relief benefit from the Federal Government.
We hope this quick fact sheet has provided you with the information you need to make informed choices about your return. At Moskowitz LLP, our seasoned tax preparers help clients navigate the often-confusing world of tax filing with confidence. We can help you find legal deductions that can reduce your tax burden and assure that you get the maximum refund or benefit amount due.
Don’t let tax day sneak up on you. Contact Moskowitz LLP today!