Tax return deadline 2020: How to file an extension, estimate returns and more


Whether you like it or not, July 15 is Tax Day — the date when your 2019 taxes are due. This year, the deadline falls three months later than usual, after the IRS extended the date from April 15 to July 15 in March as a result of the  coronavirus pandemic and its immediate hit to the US economy.

Now that your tax return deadline is here, we have answers to your many questions, including how to file an extension, what time taxes are actually due tomorrow, how to calculate your tax refund and what changes are in place for Tax Day 2020. Read on for more details and, as always, be aware that there are many common — and dangerous — tax scams to avoid.

The last day to file taxes is Wednesday, July 15

For most people in the US, taxes for calendar year 2019 are officially due tomorrow. You must file electronically sometime on this date — or else your mailed-in filing must be postmarked on July 15 — to make the cutoff.

According to the IRS, at the very least what you expect to owe must be paid by today to avoid penalties and interest, but you have until Oct. 15 to actually file your tax return. More on that below.

What happens if I miss the deadline?

The failure-to-file penalty is $300 in 2020. (The Taxpayer First Act of 2019 will increase this penalty to $330 in 2021.) To avoid paying it, you should plan to e-file or postmark your individual tax return by midnight on July 15 — at the latest. Among the many advantages of filing early, preventing someone else from filing fraudulently on your behalf is reason enough to get your taxes done as soon as possible.

How do I request an extension?

The IRS usually allows taxpayers to file for an extension. This year, according to the instructions on Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File US Individual Income Tax Return), taxpayers can apply for an extra three months to file, making Oct. 15 the due date.

Which tax preparation apps can I use?

Tax apps are numerous, but we’ve compiled some of the most reliable tax preparation apps and services here. Keep reading for even more details on how to file taxes online.

What changes for 2019 taxes do I need to know about?

For tax year 2019, the IRS has tweaked individual income tax brackets, adjusting them for inflation. And there are new regulations involving the standard deduction, 401(k) plans and health savings accounts that may affect how you prepare your taxes. The major changes include:

  • The standard deduction is now $12,200 for single filers and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly. (Learn more.)
  • The 401(k) contribution limit has increased to $19,000 but the catch-up limit — for folks 50 and over — remains $6,000. (Learn more.)
  •  The contribution limit for health savings accounts has increased to $3,500 for self-only coverage and $7,000 for families. (Learn more.)
  • The “individual mandate penalty” — previously charged to people who didn’t have health insurance — has now been eliminated.(Learn more.)

Last year, the IRS was closed due to a government shutdown. This year, many government agencies have closed their doors or are working at severely reduced capacity. Many taxpayers will need to rely on online resources to help them navigate the filing process. The IRS published a 12-page PDF covering the major changes that took effect last year and there are answers to many questions on the IRS website…Read more>>