Postponement of 2020 Individual Tax Return Deadline

By Judy A. Cahee


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The Internal Revenue Service and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance have announced that the individual income tax filing deadline for 2020 tax returns is automatically postponed from April 15, 2021, to Monday, May 17, 2021.

“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities.”

— IRS Commissioner
Chuck Rettig

These actions allow individual taxpayers to postpone the payment of tax balances due with the 2020 tax returns originally due on April 15, 2021, until May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the tax balances owed. Failure to remit unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021, will accrue penalties, interest, and additions to tax. Individual taxpayers do not need to file any forms to qualify for this automatic federal and New York State 2020 tax return filing and payment relief.

Estimated Payment Deadline Not Extended

Importantly, this relief does not apply to 2021 estimated tax payments that may be due on April 15, 2021. Unless further relief is issued, these 2021 estimated payments are still due on that date. Income taxes generally must be paid as taxpayers earn or receive income during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments. In general, estimated tax payments are made quarterly if your income is not subject to income tax withholding. This includes self-employment income, interest, dividends, prize winnings, alimony, and rental income.

State Tax Return Deadlines May Differ

As noted above, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced the same postponement in the 2020 tax return filing deadline until May 17, 2021.  However, other state deadlines may vary and do not always conform to the federal rules.  We will continue to monitor additional changes.

Other Tax Types Not Included

Be aware that the announcement from the IRS regarding the tax filing deadline change applies only to individual tax returns and payments.  Other types of income tax returns due April 15, 2021, such as C corporation, trust, gift, or estate returns were not included in the postponement relief.  The IRS stated it would soon be issuing formal guidance so we await that guidance for clarification.

File as Soon as Possible

Despite the postponement, we urge you to send in your 2020 income tax information if you have not already done so.  You want to file as soon as possible – especially if you are due a refund.