This article was fact-checked by our editors and Christina Taylor, MBA, senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year and the beginning of the 2020 tax year.
Do you wait until the last minute every year to file your taxes and risk missing the most important tax deadline?
You may already be familiar with the annual IRS income tax deadline of April 15 — typically a day or two later if that date falls on a weekend or holiday. That’s the deadline for filing your federal tax return (unless you receive a filing extension), paying tax owed or finding out if you’ll get a refund. But did you know that there are several important tax deadlines throughout the year that could affect how much tax you owe on Tax Day and whether you’ll receive a refund?
From filing a return after getting an extension to staying on top of quarterly taxes for 1099 income, knowing important deadlines can help you stay organized and save money in the long run.
Here is a month-by-month calendar of important federal tax deadlines for your 2019 and 2020 taxes. Keep in mind that all dates are subject to change.
Dec. 31: Deadline for 2019 charitable contributions, FSA spending and 401(k) contributions. The last day of the calendar year is also the deadline for making charitable contributions that can be deducted from your 2019 income. You must also use all funds in your flexible spending arrangements, or FSA, unless your employer grants an extension or a spending grace period (typically two and a half months). It’s also the last day to make contributions to your 401(k) to count toward 2019 (also known as catch-up contributions for taxpayers 50 years old and over).
Jan. 15: Fourth-quarter 2019 estimated tax payments are due. If you pay estimated taxes throughout the year to avoid getting slammed with a hefty bill and possibly penalties in April, your payment for the fourth quarter of 2019 is due today. But if you file your 2019 income tax return and pay any tax due by Jan. 31, 2020, you don’t need to make this payment.
Jan. ?: IRS begins accepting all returns. If you’re a proactive e-filer, you’re probably awaiting the announcement of when the IRS will begin accepting tax returns for the 2019 tax year. Generally, this happens in the second half of January.
Jan. 31: W-2 delivery deadline. Employers are supposed to ensure your W-2, an essential tax form for when you file taxes, is in your hands no later than today. Haven’t yet received yours? Contact your employer to ensure it was sent to the correct address. Once you have your W-2, check it carefully for errors. If you find mistakes, alert your employer right away so there’s time to issue you a corrected form and send an updated copy to the IRS.
Feb. (mid-to-late): Refunds begin to arrive. The IRS typically issues more than 90% of refunds in less than 21 days. That means that if you’re due a refund and filed in January, you may get yours as soon as mid- to late February. Keep in mind, the IRS says electronic filing and direct deposit can help ensure you get any refund you’re owed as quickly as possible.
Feb. 18: 1099-MISC, 1099-S, 1099-B delivery deadline. If you receive income from sources other than a salary paid by an employer, the source of the income must provide you with a 1099 if they paid you at least $600. Today’s the deadline for getting the form to you. Haven’t received your form by this date? Contact your client or the company to make sure it was sent to the right address. Check for errors and let the company know as soon as possible so it has time to issue you a corrected form and send an updated copy to the IRS.
April 15: Report forms for foreign bank accounts are due. Those who have $10,000 or more in a foreign bank or investment holdings must file their Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts today.
April 15: Federal Tax Day for individual filers. Tax Day is usually April 15, unless that day falls on a weekend or holiday. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has postponed Tax Day for 2019 income taxes to July 15, 2020.
Tax Day is the last day to file for an extension if you know you won’t be able to file in time. But heads up on extensions: If you owe money, you still need to pay your federal income tax on this date to avoid accruing penalties and interest, even if you get a six-month extension to file the return.
April 15: Last day for IRA contributions. It’s typically the last day to make IRA contributions that will count toward reducing your previous year’s income taxes. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, July 15, 2020 is now the last day for IRA contributions that count toward last year’s taxes.
April 15: Self-employed taxes due. If you’re self-employed, this is the tax filing deadline for filing both your individual returns and for paying your first-quarter 2020 estimated taxes.
April 15: HSA contributions. If you’re eligible to contribute to a health savings account, April 15 is usually last day you can contribute to the account to take advantage of tax savings for the previous year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, July 15, 2020 is now the last day you can make HSA contributions that count toward last year’s taxes.
April (Date to be announced): Deadline to resubmit a rejected return (for taxpayers who owe). If you filed your taxes on time but the IRS rejected your return, you must submit a corrected return by a certain deadline to avoid penalties. It’s typically five days after the filing deadline, which this year is April 15, Tax Day 2020. If you don’t expect to owe any money, then the deadline for submitting a corrected return could be Oct. 20, again depending on the date of Tax Day.
June 15: Individual returns are due for American taxpayers living abroad. If you live abroad but must file U.S. taxes, this is your deadline for your 2019 federal tax return. But unless you’re owed a tax refund, you’re still required to pay your taxes by Tax Day in April every year to avoid penalties and interest, so hopefully you didn’t miss the deadline for paying your 2019 taxes. You can also apply for an extension for your individual income tax return if you need it.
June 15: Second-quarter estimated tax payments are due. This is the deadline for those who pay estimated taxes to make their second-quarter 2020 estimated tax payments.
July 15: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline for filing and paying federal income taxes for 2019 has been postponed to July 15, 2020.
Sept. 15: Third-quarter estimated tax payments are due. Those who are self-employed need to pay their estimated taxes for the third quarter of 2020 by this date.
Oct. 15: Extension deadline for 2019 individual federal tax returns. If the IRS granted you a filing extension earlier in the year, today’s the deadline for getting your 2019 income tax return to the agency. But if you owed taxes for 2019, the IRS expected you to pay them back in April on Tax Day 2020. If you didn’t pay what you owed at that time, you might be facing interest and penalties now.
These are some of the most-important tax deadlines for tax year 2019 and going into 2020. Of course, deadlines can change, and as they do, the IRS updates Publication 509 to publicize them. And while you may be tempted to procrastinate on filing your taxes, it pays to stay in the know when it comes to deadlines. You might just find some opportunities to save money between now and Tax Day 2020.
Christina Taylor is senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma. She has more than a dozen years of experience in tax, accounting and business operations. Christina founded her own accounting consultancy and managed it for more than six years. She co-developed an online DIY tax-preparation product, serving as chief operating officer for seven years. She is the current treasurer of the National Association of Computerized Tax Processors and holds a bachelor’s in business administration/accounting from Baker College and an MBA from Meredith College. You can find her on LinkedIn.