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Tax Day is now May 17.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Don’t worry, you’ve still got plenty of time to file your federal taxes if you haven’t yet. The US Treasury and IRS announced on March 17 they’re extending the Tax Day deadline to May 17 in order to “help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic.”

The IRS started tax season a bit later this year, giving taxpayers fewer days to prepare and file their taxes than in previous years. The IRS is currently immersed in tax season with processing returns and sending out refunds, while also sending out stimulus payments at the same time. However, the extension will give the agency, as well as individuals, more time to prepare and process tax forms.

The IRS is also dealing with claims for missing stimulus payments this year, which are linked to taxes. Plus, your 2020 income could be used to determine how much money you’ll get in a third stimulus check. In addition to that, the IRS will have to start preparing for the 2021 child tax credit payments, which are expected to start in July for eligible families — assuming they have qualifying dependents. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s Tax Day and how moving it back could affect you in more ways than one.

Does the new IRS May 17 tax deadline delay mean I can wait to pay my taxes, too?

Yes, without penalty. According to the IRS, “individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.”

If you need time beyond May 17, you can file a tax extension, which gives you more time to complete and send in your paperwork to the IRS. The IRS said individual taxpayers do not need to file forms or call the IRS to qualify for the extension.

The new extension doesn’t get you off the hook for estimated tax payments, however. The IRS said the May 17 deadline does not apply to those who make estimated payments, which are still due on April 15.

According to Barry Melancon, president and CEO of AICPA, a professional organization for certified public accountants, the postponement doesn’t go far enough. “This IRS extension does not extend to the millions of small business owners and individuals who pay estimated taxes,” he said. “This selective decision by the IRS unfortunately creates more bureaucracy and confusion and is out of sync with real world stresses that taxpayers, tax practitioners and small businesses are dealing with.”

Does the new tax deadline affect the third stimulus checks?

Since stimulus payments and your tax return are interlocked this year, pushing back the tax date could affect the third stimulus check.

First, the IRS uses information on your 2020 tax return, if processed, when it determines the amount you’d get in your third stimulus check. Specifically, the IRS looks at the AGI, or adjusted gross income, on your 2020 form to help figure out your payment, using a new stimulus check formula. But the tax agency will use your 2019 return if your 2020 taxes haven’t been accepted by the time your payment is sent. That could work in your favor if your income from 2019 was lower than your income from 2020. However, if your 2020 tax return would bring you a larger third stimulus check, like if you have more dependents, you’d want to file as soon as possible, so the IRS processes your 2020 taxes before releasing your third stimulus check.

Postponing the tax deadline gives you more time to file, but again, it means you have to wait longer to receive any missing stimulus money, and if there’s a difference between your 2019 and 2020 taxes, you’d have to wait until tax season 2021 to claim it.


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get

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What a new tax deadline could mean for any missing stimulus money

Your federal tax returns this year are also how you’ll recover any money the IRS owes you from the first two stimulus checks. If you either didn’t get a payment or got less than you were eligible to receive, you can claim that money on your federal tax forms as a rebate credit when you file this year. That goes for nonfilers, too — those who aren’t normally required to file a tax return. If you wait to file your taxes closer to a new, later due date, you’re also waiting to receive your money, which will be bundled into your tax return.

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Congress tied your taxes and stimulus check money together.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Will my state’s tax deadline be the same as the new federal deadline?

Last year, all states that collect personal income tax shifted their filing deadlines to around July 15, 2020, which was the federal tax deadline, according to the American Institute of CPAs. Since the IRS postponed the filing deadline again this year, we expect states to follow — and some already have.

For more details on taxes this year, we spell out the difference between a tax refund and a tax returnhow tax season is different in 2021 and three reasons to sign up for direct deposit when you file your taxes.

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