IRS Extends Filing and Payment Deadline for Individual Taxpayers to May 17


Peter Beach | March 18, 2021

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the federal income tax filing and payment due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year has been automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. In a statement, the IRS Commissioner attributed the postponement to hardships taxpayers are experiencing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some aspects of the extension that taxpayers should be aware of:

  • Who does the May 17 extension apply to? The postponement applies to taxpayers filing individual income tax returns only, including individual taxpayers who pay self-employment tax.
  • How to qualify for the May 17 extension. All individual taxpayers qualify and do not need to file any forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief.
  • How to qualify for an extension beyond May 17? Affected taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request a filing extension until October 15 by filing Form 4868. However, taxpayers extending beyond May 17 can only extend their filing obligation, not their tax payment obligation. Penalties, interest, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021.
  • What about 2021 estimated tax payments? The postponement does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021. Those payments are still due on April 15.
  • Is this the final word on federal tax filing and payment extensions for 2020 returns? Maybe not. Some lawmakers and groups of tax professionals are still pushing for refinements (e.g., extending individual income tax return filings and payments beyond May 17 and extending the due date for April 2021 estimated tax payments to match the extension date for individual income tax returns).
  • What about state taxes? The postponement announced by the IRS does not apply to state tax payments or deposits. As of the date of this posting, the lack of any express guidance regarding income tax filing and payment extensions on the website of the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration indicates that regular filing deadlines are still in place.  Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont, however, have announced their responses to the federal income tax filing extension announced previously as follows:
    • Massachusetts: The time for individuals to file and pay 2020 returns and taxes otherwise due April 15, 2021, has been extended to May 17, 2021. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s statement on the extension does not mention the April 15 due date for estimated tax payments, effectively leaving the April 15, 2021, due date in place, consistent with IRS guidance on federal estimated tax payments.
    • Maine: The filing and payment deadline for Maine 2020 individual income taxes is extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021; April 15 estimated tax payments are still due on April 15, 2021.
    • Vermont: Vermont 2020 personal income tax returns are due on May 17; April 15 estimated tax payments are still due on April 15, 2021.