You May Have More Time to File Your Taxes This Year — Here’s What You Need to Know

published Mar 18, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

If you’re still gathering your tax forms, or haven’t yet decided if you’re going to try to calculate your taxes on your own or enlist the help of a professional, this might come as good news: the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced in a press release that the filing deadline for 2020 tax returns is now May 17, just over a month later than the standard April 15 deadline.

Why the two day difference between May 15 and May 17? CNBC points out that May 15 lands on a Saturday, while May 17 is a Monday, and therefore a business day. (Some states have their own deadlines; Maryland extended its filing deadline to July 15, CNN noted, and the deadline in Texas has been extended to June 15 following devastating winter storms.)

The May extension still isn’t as prolonged as the push last year, when the April 15 deadline was extended to mid-July, but the extra 32 days may help if you’re juggling chores, household responsibilities, work, and other obligations. If you need even longer to file your tax return, you can file an extension request through the IRS, but you will still need to pay any amount owed or opt into a payment plan by the May 17 deadline.

Even so, you might want to file your taxes sooner rather than later if you can, especially if you’re expecting a refund or want to avoid penalty fees. “If you’re expecting a tax refund, file as soon as possible,” Dr. Salvador Gonzalez, a CPA and professor at Walden University, previously told Apartment Therapy. “The pandemic exacerbated tax refund delays last year and millions are still facing coronavirus-related financial hardship.”

If you need your tax return for any reason, it’s better to give the IRS as much time as possible to file your paperwork and issue your check. As FiveThirtyEight reported in 2016, around one in seven people waited until the week of April 7-15 to file their taxes in 2015, which means the IRS was overloaded with paperwork from that point on.

“If you’re counting on your refund for something important, file as soon as you have the necessary documents,” Dr. Gonzalez added.