When Can I File My 2020 Taxes in 2021 and Other Key IRS Tax Return Filing Deadlines, Extensions and Due Dates

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This article was last updated on January 15

The table below shows key 2021 deadline dates for filing 2020 tax returns and/or requesting temporary extensions. Given the number of missing government payments around the COVID relief economic stimulus payments and especially the dependent child stimulus payment, I expect there to a keen interest in the upcoming tax season. Especially for those expecting a large refund (see expected 2020-2021 tax refund schedule).

Note that while many employer (W2), investment/dividend (1099-MISC) and unemployment tax forms (1099-G) are legally due on January 31st, for this year the due date has been shifted to February 1st as Jan 31st is a Sunday. Also due to the need to complete processing of the second round of stimulus checks and updating systems for processing some tax changes (recovery rebate credits and EITC updates) the IRS has pushed out the processing of tax returns to Friday, February 12, 2021 per their latest announcement. This is 2 to 3 weeks later than when they normally start. The end date for filing or requesting a tax extension remains April 15th, 2021.

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2020 to 2021 Tax Season Filing Key Dates and Deadlines

Tax Filing Deadlines
Tax Related Activity
Jan 1stFirst day to file a federal tax return, though the IRS generally will not accept e-file and free file returns until the date below. Even paper based filings won't be processed till later in the month
Feb 1st1099-G forms for reporting Unemployment Compensation and Taxes paid to you for the prior calendar year. Contact your state UI agency if not received by this date.
Feb 1stDate by which you should have received a W-2 from employers you worked for during the tax year. If not, contact their HR/Payroll department to resend tax documents
Feb 1stDeadline for 1099 statements (factors in your AGI income) that report non-employee compensation, bank interest, dividends and distributions from a retirement plan. This date is also the deadline for self-employed individuals to file and pay in full their fourth-quarter estimated tax payment
Feb 1stFinancial institutions (e.g Vanguard, Fidelity) must mail out 1099-B, 1099-S and 1099-MISC forms by this date. See what these forms are and if you will need one for your return
Feb 12th IRS E-file to go live, allowing submission of electronic tax returns for the vast majority of tax filers. Paper tax returns will begin processing later in mid-February as IRS system updates continue (IRS recommends e-filing for faster refunds).
[2021 update] This date is 2 to 3 weeks later than normal processing, due to system updates and processing of second stimulus checks. Will also delay refund processing schedule.
March 15S Corporation and Partnership tax returns due
April 15*Tax Day* Last day for filing federal and state income tax returns and extension requests.
April 15Deadline for filing state income tax returns (for most states) and extension requests. Last day to make a contribution to a Traditional or Roth IRA, Health Savings Account (HSA), SEP-IRA or 401(k)
April 15FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) forms due for taxpayers who have signature authority over $10,000 in total in foreign bank accounts in the prior year. Laws enacted last year change the standard FBAR due date to "tax day" (vs June 30th as in years past). No extensions are allowed and forms must be filed electronically.
September 15U.S. citizens or resident aliens living abroad must file tax returns and pay any taxes due by this date (or file for a four-month extension)
October 15Filing approved extended federal, state and S-Corp/Partnership income tax returns Note: you still need to file for an extension request by April 15th

An important point to note is that while you can file your taxes anytime after the beginning of the year, the IRS will not process any returns (paper or electronic) until IRS e-File goes live. This includes returns filed via the main tax software providers or directly via the IRS website for lower income filers. The IRS also reiterated that filing your taxes electronically is the most accurate way to file a tax return and the fastest way to get a refund. It is expected that more than over 80% of tax returns will be e-filed in the latest tax year.

Once your return is accepted the IRS processes your refund based on the IRS E-file Refund Cycle Chart. Exact refund dates are based on IRS processing times and can be found in IRS Publication 2043 and IRS Topic 152 for both e-filed and mailed returns. After filing and assuming your tax return is on order you should receive your federal refund between 8 and 21 days. If you did not select the electronic deposit option, getting a paper check mailed to you adds about a week. As a general rule, you can expect your state tax refund within 30 days of the electronic filing date or the postmark date.

Note that for the upcoming tax season the IRS has again announced that there will likely be tax refund payment delays. In particular for those claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) refunds may not be processed until mid to late February in order to perform further identity verification checks. To get specific details on your refund the best option is to review the official IRS Where’s My Refund tool once your return has been accepted.

A common question I receive is, “Will I get my refund faster if I file earlier?” The short answer is not really. Filing early can be beneficial because you get your filing done sooner (less stress) and get your refund in hand, but the IRS has said average refund times are the same no matter when you file. There are some other ancillary benefits of filing sooner like less chance of security issues with someone else filing falsely on your behalf but for most people they are dependent on their employer(s) to provide tax documents like W-2’s before they can file. My advice is to file between mid-February and the end of March, to ensure you have all your tax forms and documentation in order.

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[Coronavirus Delay Update] The IRS has announced, under the national emergency provision to tackle the Coronavirus, that they will postpone the April 15 tax-payment deadline for millions of individuals, giving Americans an additional 90 days – to July 15th – to pay their 2019 income-tax bills in an unprecedented move intended to ease the economic pain inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak. The delay is available to people who owe $1 million or less.

Final tax 2019 returns are due by Wednesday, July 15th 2020 (extended by 3 months due to COVID outbreak) ; unless a 6-month extension is approved. Details shown in table below:

Tax Season Filing Key Dates and Deadlines

Tax Filing Deadlines
Tax Related Activity
January 1First day to file a federal tax return, though the IRS generally will not accept e-file and free file returns until the date below. Even paper based filings won't be processed till later in the month
January 27IRS E-file to go live, allowing submission of electronic tax returns for the vast majority of tax filers. Paper tax returns will begin processing later in mid-February as IRS system updates continue (IRS recommends e-filing for faster refunds)
February 7Date by which you should have received a W-2 from employers you worked for during the tax year. If not, contact their HR/Payroll department to resend tax documents
February 7Deadline for 1099 statements (factors in your AGI income) that report non-employee compensation, bank interest, dividends and distributions from a retirement plan. This date is also the deadline for self-employed individuals to file and pay in full their fourth-quarter estimated tax payment
February 21Financial institutions (e.g Vanguard, Fidelity) must mail out 1099-B, 1099-S and 1099-MISC forms by this date. See what these forms are and if you will need one for your return
March 16S Corporation and Partnership tax returns due
July 15*Tax Day* Last day for filing federal income tax returns and extension requests. The date was extended due the Coronavirus outbreak. State tax filing deadlines have also been extended to this date.
July 15Deadline for filing state income tax returns (for most states) and extension requests. Last day to make a contribution to a Traditional or Roth IRA, Health Savings Account (HSA), SEP-IRA or 401(k)
July 15FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) forms due for taxpayers who have signature authority over $10,000 in total in foreign bank accounts in the prior year. Laws enacted last year change the standard FBAR due date to "tax day" (vs June 30th as in years past). No extensions are allowed and forms must be filed electronically.
September 15U.S. citizens or resident aliens living abroad must file tax returns and pay any taxes due by this date (or file for a four-month extension)
October 15Filing approved extended federal, state and S-Corp/Partnership income tax returns Note: you still need to file for an extension request by April 17th

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49 thoughts on “When Can I File My 2020 Taxes in 2021 and Other Key IRS Tax Return Filing Deadlines, Extensions and Due Dates

  1. Anyone else that is subject to the PATH Act have your bars taken away and given the following message:

    According to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. This applies to the entire refund, even the portion not associated with these credits.
    Check Where’s My Refund in mid- to late February for your personalized refund status. It’s updated once a day and remains the best way to check the status of your refund.

    Please read the following information related to your tax situation:
    Tax Topic 152, Refund Information
    Please Note:
    For refund information, please continue to check here, or use our free mobile app, IRS2Go. Updates to refund status are made no more than once a day.

    Thought I’d check.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. I did mine the 1st of February it was accepted but still processing how long do u think it will take for direct deposit?

  3. I tried efile my 2016 return using turbo tax , I’m in the state of Florida and it has Florida as a state I cannot efile, When will Florida be ok to efile????

    1. Florida has no state income tax. Your federal return is e-filed and subject to dates shown above.

  4. I own a small business I need to submit my corporate taxes before I can apply for a home mortgage. Does anybody know when E filing for corporations goes live?

  5. I think a correction might be in order:

    Starting this year, the FBAR filing deadline is Tax Day, rather than the end of June.
    Please update accordingly.

    1. Thanks for the catch and comment George. I missed this update. Also double checked with the IRS website and you are spot on – “The recently enacted Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 changes the standard FBAR due date to April 15 beginning with the 2016 calendar year reports, which are due in 2017. The FBAR deadline for calendar year 2015 reports remains June 30, 2016 (with no extensions allowed).”

  6. I have always filed my own taxes, every year. Working a little or alot. Been Unemployed and Employed… but last year, 2015/2016 threw me a curve ball. I was receiving EBT assistance aka Food Stamps, but not Medi-Cal/Medi-Care. I finally got around to applying. I wasn’t making enough to get my own Health Insurance. Only Health from them but not Dental which is what I really need. Anyway, last year when it came time to file my taxes I got scared about not having Health Insurance so I only filed my State. My question is “Can I still file my Federal, and How ?, meaning what forms would I use.” I usually use 1040EZ.

    1. You can still file your federal. This year the penalties are not as severe as recently. You should be fine.

  7. I Need Some Assistance,I Filed My 2015-2016 Tax Return And They Approved My Federal Tax Refund And Sent Me A Check But Then A Few Weeks Later I Was Told That My STATE Tax Return Was Pulled Randomly For Audit And I Never Received A Refund From My State Tax Return NOW I’m Worried That When I File THIS Year 2016-2017 Are They Gonna Take My Whole Federal Tax Refund Because Of The Audit Last Year? Even Though I Never Received A State Refund Check…..ANY Help Is Welcome Thank You

    1. Wel,,,the state and federal (IRS) are different agencies. But if your state refund was pulled for an audit and there were issues likely will get examined again this year. If you do owe state taxes, the IRS may work with your local tax agency to garnish any amounts due, but this depends on the audit results. My suggestion is you call your local/state tax agency and ask them. They legally have to tell you why no refund was paid or if you owe more taxes. If the audit is in progress your current year tax refund will be processed normally.

  8. Would you be kind enough to advise me when you intend to allow submission of 2015 1040NR
    Income Tax Returns. Will the 2014 rules of at least six months processing time apply for 2015?

    Many thanks for your response.

    Peter Rich

  9. Official IRS notice on 2015-16 Tax season (per IRS.gov)

    2016 Tax Season Opens Jan. 19 for Nation’s Taxpayers

    WASHINGTON ― Following a review of the tax extenders legislation signed into law last week, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that the nation’s tax season will begin as scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.

    The IRS will begin accepting individual electronic returns that day. The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual returns in 2016, with more than four out of five being prepared using tax return preparation software and e-filed. The IRS will begin processing paper tax returns at the same time. There is no advantage to people filing tax returns on paper in early January instead of waiting for e-file to begin.

    “We look forward to opening the 2016 tax season on time,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Our employees have been working hard throughout this year to make this happen. We also appreciate the help from the nation’s tax professionals and the software community, who are critical to helping taxpayers during the filing season.”

    As part of the Security Summit initiative, the IRS has been working closely with the tax industry and state revenue departments to provide stronger protections against identity theft for taxpayers during the coming filing season.

    The filing deadline to submit 2015 tax returns is Monday, April 18, 2016, rather than the traditional April 15 date. Washington, D.C., will celebrate Emancipation Day on that Friday, which pushes the deadline to the following Monday for most of the nation. (Due to Patriots Day, the deadline will be Tuesday, April 19, in Maine and Massachusetts.)

    Koskinen noted the new legislation makes permanent many provisions and extends many others for several years. “This provides certainty for planning purposes, which will help taxpayers and the tax community as well as the IRS,” he said.

    The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing, including Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and Form 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the premium tax credit.

    “We encourage taxpayers to take full advantage of the expanding array of tools and information on IRS.gov to make their tax preparation easier,” Koskinen said.

    Although the IRS begins accepting returns on Jan. 19, many tax software companies will begin accepting tax returns earlier in January and submitting them to the IRS when processing systems open.

    Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. The IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Find free options to get tax help, and to prepare and file your return on IRS.gov or in your community if you qualify. Go to IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab to see your options.

    Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $62,000 or less;
    Online fillable forms provides electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income that can be prepared and filed by people comfortable with completing their own returns.
    The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to irs.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a VITA or TCE site near you, or download the IRS2Go app on your smart phone and find a free tax prep provider.

    The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code.

    1. As far as I know, you can still file your taxes as far back as 3 years. All you need is your W2 forms for the year(s) that you are requesting to file. The dates to file them is the same as the 2015 year.

      1. But remember if you owe taxes, the interest and penalties start accruing from the tax year you owed that tax. So file on time or pay what you owe because interest and penalties can add up fast.

  10. Please when does Tax file extention begins ? and can i do that with Turbotax ?

  11. I received my tax refund April 1st. It was accepted and approved Feb 2. It was flagged for possible identity theft. Every thing checked out fine and they sent my refund. Hope this help some of you.

  12. Return accepted February 2nd. It’s been 2 months today. The “where’s my refund” link states that my return is still being processed. Can’t get in touch with anyone when I call the 1800 number. Spoke to a tax advocate, after being on hold for over an hour and they still couldn’t tell me why. This is so frustrating And certainly not fair.

  13. I filed on the Jan 24!! And it is still processing! Why!! I don’t understand!! People filed a week or two after me and they already received theres!!

  14. Wondering which tax software is the best for filing your return? By way of bloomberg here is a review

    TaxACT is the cheapest option for most people. With only 115 full-time employees, TaxACT spends little on marketing but handles 7 million returns a year. Its pricing is relatively simple: Nothing at all for a basic federal filing tool with all the necessary forms, plus $15 for state filing. A deluxe package — federal return, state return and more guidance — costs $20.

    H&R Block claims the cheapest option – $20 for a state and federal return. But that’s only available to those who fit narrow criteria, homeowners or others who file a 1040 form with Schedule A. And it’s only a better deal than TaxACT’s $20 option if you take into account H&R Block’s “in-person audit support.” Other H&R Block federal options cost $30 and $50 online.

    TurboTax charges $37 for a state return on top of a federal return (the same as H&R Block). TurboTax raised prices by $5 this year, bringing “premier” to $55, or more than $90, if you include a state return. TurboTax says it can charge more because it’s a better product than its rivals;

  15. When is the IRS excepting efiles for self employed individuals? The site has it as “draft forms”?

    1. Great question. For Self employed individuals you should be able to file from next week. Though if you generate your own W2 (for S-corp or LLC) you should be able to file as an individual now and for your business later

  16. If I file my taxes today. 1/23. Then it gets direct deposit into my account within 10 days correct? So I should have my refund by 2/2?

    1. You should get in the prescribed time. But check the IRS, “Where is my refund tool” from IRS.gov to get the latest status. Also if there are issues with your return it may take longer to receive your refund.

  17. I filed my tax return on 1/14/15 and it was accepted right on 1/20/15, however, it is only received to this day 1/23/15. Any reason why it hasnt been processed yet or are they not going to process ANY returns until 1/31. I got my refund within 7 days last year and dont know why it’s taking so long this year when i filed earlier.
    Thanks

    1. I did this too I also checked where is my refund it just sat received… Last yr I got my refund n like 7 day… I don’t know y its taking longer this year… Sorry no help..

  18. What if you filed your taxes already but then you get w2 in you forgot that you work there???

  19. WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance today announced the launch of Free File, which makes brand-name tax software products and electronic filing available to most taxpayers for free.

    Free File software can help taxpayers with tax preparation, including the health care law that will affect almost everyone. People can use Free File software immediately but e-filed returns will not be transmitted to the IRS until Tuesday, January 20, when the filing season officially begins.

    Free File is available only at IRS.gov/FreeFile, thanks to a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a consortium of 14 leading tax software companies that make their branded products available for free. Since 2003, more than 43 million people have used Free File, saving $1.3 billion based on a conservative $30-fee estimate.

    1. There is not much of a timing difference in your refund if you file sooner rather than later. But the advantage of filing earlier is that you get it out of the way (less stress), reduce the risk of someone filing on your behalf (a common IRS security risk) and also provide time to file any amendments. That being said, filing early is hard for a lot of people because they need to wait till the end of Jan to get employer documents (W2 etc) and also the IRS sometimes has internal delays due to issues with their systems when processing early returns.

  20. The Internal Revenue Service announced today that processing of tax returns claiming education credits will begin by the middle of February. Taxpayers using Form 8863, Education Credits, can begin filing their tax returns after the IRS updates its processing systems. Form 8863 is used to claim two higher education credits — the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit

    1. By education credit do you mean POEPLE using form 1098? I already filled and I wanted to know if it would take even longer to receive my refund because I added my 1098. I filed on 1/16 and My refund status is “accepted”

  21. The IRS has confirmed that it will begin processing most individual income tax returns on Jan. 30 after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems.

    The IRS will not process paper or electronic tax returns before the Jan. 30 opening date, so there is no advantage to filing on paper before then. Using e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return, and using e-file with direct deposit is the fastest way to get a refund. Many major software providers are accepting tax returns in advance of the Jan. 30 processing date. These software providers will hold onto the returns and then electronically submit them after the IRS systems open. If you use commercial software, check with your provider for specific instructions about when they will accept your return. Software companies and tax professionals send returns to the IRS, but the timing of the refunds is determined by IRS processing, which starts Jan. 30.

    After the IRS starts processing returns, it expects to process refunds within the usual timeframes. Last year, the IRS issued more than nine out of 10 refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days, and it expects the same results in 2013. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, some tax returns will require additional review and take longer. To help protect against refund fraud, the IRS has put in place stronger security filters this filing season.

    After taxpayers file a return, they can track the status of the refund with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on the IRS.gov website. New this year, instead of an estimated date, Where’s My Refund? will give people an actual personalized refund date after the IRS processes the tax return and approves the refund. “Where’s My Refund?” will be available for use after the IRS starts processing tax returns on Jan. 30. Initial information will generally be available within 24 hours after the IRS receives the taxpayer’s e-filed return or four weeks after mailing a paper return. The system updates every 24 hours, usually overnight. There’s no need to check more than once a day.

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