IRS Extends 2019 Income Tax Filing and Payment Deadline in Response to Coronavirus

In response to COVID-19, the IRS is extending the time to file and pay 2019 income taxes by 90 days -- until July 15, 2020.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS is extending the time to file and pay 2019 income taxes by 90 days. (IRS Notice 2020-18.) Thus, your 2019 tax return need not be filed until July 15, 2020. You don't have to pay any amount you owe until that date. No penalties or interest will be charged. There is no limit on the amount of such payments that may be postponed.

This 90-day extension is automatic--you don't need to file a tax form to obtain it. And it applies to all taxpayers--individuals, corporations, partnerships, trusts, estates, and nonprofits. It covers both 2019 income taxes and self-employment taxes (Social Security and Medicare taxes). However, the 90-day delay does not apply to any other type of tax filing--for example, payroll taxes and excise taxes.

What About Estimated Taxes?

Taxpayers who pay estimated taxes are supposed to make their first payment for 2020 on April 15. This payment has also been delayed by 90 days. Thus, you need not make your April 15 estimated tax payment until July 15. The second estimated tax payment for 2020 is due June 15. This payment has not been delayed. The odd result is that the second estimated tax payment for 2020 is due before the first.

You Can Still File an Extension

You can still obtain an automatic six-month extension to file your 2019 return by filing IRS Form 4868, Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return. You must file Form 4868 before your tax return is due to obtain an extension. The IRS hasn't made it clear whether taxpayers must file the form by April 15 or wait until July 15.

It's also unclear whether filing an extension delays the date you have to file your 2019 return until October 15, 2020 (the ordinary due date) or January 15, 2021.

In any event, if you due file an extension you'll need to pay any 2019 income and self-employment tax you owe by the due date for Form 4868. Filing such an extension is purely optional.

Completing and filing Form 4868 is relatively simple. However, you need to provide an estimate of your total 2019 tax liability on Form 4868, and list the amount you’ve already paid and the amount you owe. You can get a free estimate of how much tax you owe, by using TurboTax’s TaxCaster or H&R Block's Tax Calculator. You can send in Form 4868 to the IRS electronically with tax software such as TurboTax or H&R Block, by using IRS Free File, or through your tax preparer. You can also complete the form online, print it out, and postal mail it to the IRS. Your extension letter must be postmarked by the due date; it doesn't matter if it's received by the IRS after that date.

What If You’re Owed a Tax Refund?

If you’re owed a tax refund on your 2019 taxes, it makes absolutely no sense to delay filing your complete 2019 tax return. You should file it as soon as possible so you’ll get your refund. The IRS is still processing refunds and says it takes on average 21 days to get them. You won’t get a refund until you file. If you're not sure you're owed a refund, you can use the tax calculators listed above to find out or the Tax Withholding Estimator on the IRS website.

What About IRA and HSA Contributions?

You have until the due date of your tax return to make contributions to an IRA or Health Savings Account and have it apply to your prior year taxes. It's unclear if you must make such contributions by April 15 or wait until July 15.

What About the States?

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have their own income taxes and most also have an April 15 deadline. It’s expected that all or most of them will follow the IRS’s lead and grant their own tax filing and payment extensions. You can find summaries of state coronavirus tax extensions at a special web page maintained by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. You can also check your state tax agency's website for more information. You can find a link to it at the IRS State Government Websites page.

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