In a NutshellIn response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government is giving Americans more time to file and pay their 2019 federal income taxes.
This article was fact-checked by our editors and a member of the Credit Karma product specialist team, led by Senior Manager of Operations Christina Taylor. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year.
With the coronavirus impacting virtually every aspect of American life, the federal government has extended the deadline for filing and paying 2019 federal income taxes.
All Americans now have until July 15, 2020, to file their federal income tax returns for 2019 and pay any tax they may owe. The deferral is automatic — you don’t need to file any forms or call the IRS to qualify for the new deadline.
Here’s what you need to know about the new tax filing deadline and when you need to pay your taxes.
- When is the new tax filing deadline?
- When do I have to pay my taxes?
- What about penalties and interest?
- What do I need to do to get the new filing deadline?
- Should I file now instead of waiting for the deadline?
- What if I need more time to file?
- What if I need more time to pay?
- Have state tax deadlines been delayed?
When is the new tax filing deadline?
The deadline for filing federal income tax returns and paying any tax you owe is typically April 15 — though Tax Day can shift slightly if the 15th falls on a weekend or holiday.
But in 2020, as part of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, the deadline for filing and paying federal income taxes for the 2019 tax year has been delayed to July 15. The new deadline applies to everyone — individuals, small businesses, self-employed people, corporations, estates and trusts.
Initially, the federal government had announced it would push back the payment deadline by 90 days but keep April 15 as the filing deadline. But on March 21, the IRS issued a statement that the filing deadline would also be extended to July 15, 2020.
When do I have to pay my taxes?
If you owe federal income tax for 2019, you can now delay paying until July 15, 2020.
When the federal government first announced the payment delay on March 17, it originally limited the deferral to individuals who owed up to $1 million and corporations that owed up to $10 million. On March 21, the IRS announced that the payment deferral applies to everyone, regardless of how much they may owe.Coronavirus and your finances: We’ll help answer your questions
If you already filed your 2019 return and scheduled a payment, you’ll need to take action to reschedule the payment if you want to postpone it to July 15. The rescheduling method will depend on how you initially made the payment. The IRS has issued detailed guidance on how to do this. Check out question 14 on this IRS page of FAQs about the filing and payment deadline extension.
What about penalties and interest?
Normally, if you don’t pay any federal income tax you owe by April 15, you could face interest and penalties on the unpaid amount.
But for 2019 taxes (which are due in 2020), the IRS will waive penalties and interest on balances not paid by April 15 — as long as you pay your tax liability by the new deadline of July 15. That deferral applies regardless of how much you may owe.
What do I need to do to get the new filing deadline?
Fortunately, you don’t need to do anything to take advantage of the extra time. The IRS says you don’t need to file any additional forms or contact the agency to qualify for the coronavirus-related tax filing and payment relief.
You can also file sooner than July 15, if you choose. Whenever you’re ready to file, the IRS recommends e-filing and direct deposit as the quickest way to get any refund you may be owed.
Should I file now instead of waiting for the deadline?
If you expect to get a tax refund, you should file as soon as you can, the IRS advises. Despite the impact of the coronavirus, the IRS says it is still issuing most refunds within 21 days.
And there may be other advantages to filing early, if you’re able to.
Plan for a big tax bill
The earlier you complete and file your tax return, the sooner you’ll know whether you owe money or are due a refund. If you owe federal tax, you still have until the deadline to pay, giving you more time to prepare for the financial hit.
Potentially reduce possible tax fraud
If identity thieves have access to your Social Security number, they can use it to file a fraudulent tax return in your name. If you then try to file a return later, the IRS won’t accept it, and you’ll need to file an identity theft affidavit and go through the process of resolving the fraud with the IRS before you can receive your refund.
Of course, there’s no surefire way to stop identity theft completely, but the sooner you file your federal tax return, the less time thieves may have to file as you.Learn how to lower your risk of tax identity theft
What if I need more time to file?
If July 15 is not enough of an extension, individuals can request additional time by filing Form 4868. You can file through a tax professional, some tax filing software or the Free File link on IRS.gov (if you qualify for Free File).
That form generally allows you to request a filing extension until Oct. 15 — though it’s not an extension of time to pay any tax you might owe. Unless Congress acts again to change the payment deadline, any 2019 federal income tax you owe will still be due by July 15, 2020.
What if I need more time to pay?
If you’re not able to pay the tax you owe by July 15, you may have other options. Here are a few.
- Request a payment plan that will allow you to stretch your tax obligation over multiple months. Keep in mind that while a payment plan can prevent you from incurring penalties, interest will still apply to the unpaid balance.
- Explore an offer in compromise, which may allow you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. But you’ll have to meet the qualifications.
- Ask to have collection temporarily delayed until you can pay.
Have state tax deadlines been delayed?
States make their own tax rules, though many follow federal rules. Some states have changed their deadlines to align with the federal filing and payment deadline. Be sure to check if your state has decided to delay its tax due date this year. You can find a list of state tax deadlines in the Credit Karma help center.
Tax season 2020 is turning out to be a year like no other thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Allowing taxpayers to delay tax filing and payments could help keep billions of dollars of liquidity in the economy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said.
The later tax filing and payment deadline is just one of multiple measures the government is taking to bolster the economy against the impact of the pandemic. To learn more about how the IRS is responding to the pandemic, you can visit its Coronavirus Tax Relief web page. You can also find a roundup of other government relief measures — at federal, state and local levels — on Credit Karma.
Relevant sources: IRS: Filing and Payment Deadlines Questions and Answers | IRS Press Release on Extended Filing Deadline | IRS: Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments | IRS: Apply Online for a Payment Plan | IRS: Offer in Compromise | IRS: Temporarily Delay the Collection Process
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 codeveloped 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 degree in business administration/accounting from Baker College and an MBA from Meredith College. You can find her on LinkedIn.