The IRS has extended the April 15 deadline for individuals to file 2020 income tax returns and make 2020 tax payments until May 17, 2021. The relief is limited in scope and does not apply to any other payment deadlines or due dates for filing other income tax or information returns.
The relief will apply automatically, and individual taxpayers (including individuals who pay self-employment tax) will not be subject to penalties or interest if returns are filed and payments are made by May 17. Penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Taxpayers also have until May 17 to file a Form 4868 and extend their filing deadline until Oct. 15, 2021, but this will not extend the time for payment.
The relief does not apply to any other annual returns or information returns due on April 15, and does not extend the deadline for amending a return or filing a proactive claim. The relief also does not apply to individual estimated tax payments for 2021 that are due on April 15. It is unclear at this time whether the deadline is extended for other individual actions that must be performed by April 15 and are typically reported on the Form 1040, such as a contribution to an individual retirement account. The IRS has indicated that it will issue more detailed formal guidance in the coming days.
Importantly, the relief is independent of state and local income tax payment and return deadlines. In the past week, in advance of the IRS’s announcement, several states provided for non-uniform extensions of state corporate, pass-through and individual income tax return payment and due dates, including New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Maryland. While some states and localities ultimately may mirror the federal relief, others may significantly depart from it. Based on the reaction to federal relief provided last spring, it likely will take several days for the majority of state and local tax jurisdictions to finalize their approaches with respect to these issues.
This relief may provide flexibility to some individuals, but individual taxpayers should prepare to make all 2020 federal income tax payments by May 17 at the latest. Individuals who will not be able to file the return by May 17 should file a Form 4868 to extend the filing deadline to Oct. 15. Other taxpayers with April 15 payment and return due dates, such as for Forms 709, 1041, 990, or 1120, should be prepared to file and make payments by April 15 as scheduled, filing for extensions as needed.
William E. Buchanan
William E. “Buck” Buchanan is the lead IRS Practice and Procedure subject matter expert in the Washington National Tax Office (WNTO).
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