Here’s something that hasn’t happened in a while: Tax Day is actually April 15 for all Americans to file their 2019 tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) this year. Confused? Let us explain.

Tax Day can’t fall on Saturday or Sunday, and certain state holidays can also push the due date for federal income taxes past April 15. In 2019, for example, Tax Day for most Americans was, indeed, April 15 – unless you lived in Massachusetts or Maine. Both of those states officially celebrate Patriots’ Day, a commemoration of Revolutionary War battles. Since the Patriots’ Day holiday fell on April 15 last year, the IRS granted residents an extra day to file. But that wasn’t the end of it. April 16, 2019, was Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia that celebrates the end of slavery in Washington. Since the IRS can’t require taxpayers to file on a legal holiday, federal returns for residents of Massachusetts and Maine weren’t due until April 17. Tax Day was delayed in 2016, 2017 and 2018 due to Emancipation Day in the district.

But this year, Tax Day is on a Wednesday, with no weekends or state holidays to push it forward. You’ll need to have your return postmarked by midnight on April 15. If you file electronically, the date and time in your time zone when your return is transmitted controls whether your return is filed on time. After you file, you will get an electronic acknowledgement that the IRS has accepted your electronically filed return.

April 15 isn’t the only tax day to mark on your 2020 calendar. January 27 is the first day the IRS will start accepting and processing federal income tax forms for the 2019 tax year. If you’re expecting a refund, you’ll get your money fastest by filing electronically and getting your refund via direct deposit to your bank, rather than waiting for a check in the mail.

If you’re a procrastinator, circle October 15, which is when you must file your final tax return after filing for an extension. You’ll need Form 4868 to do so, and you can also file electronically for an automatic extension. Doing so will let you avoid the penalty for failing to file, which is 4.5 percent of the amount you owe each month.

Even if you do file for an extension, you still have to estimate and pay your taxes due by April 15. You’ll need to pay at least 90 percent of what you end up owing to avoid late payment penalties, which are 0.5 percent of what you owe per month. Combined, the two penalties cannot exceed 25 percent of what you owe.

Finally, if you’re self-employed, you have more dates to jot down: January 15, April 15, June 15 and September 15. These are the dates your estimated taxes are due. (Note: Your last estimated tax payment for tax year 2019 is due January 15, 2020; your first estimated tax payment for tax year 2020 is due April 15, 2020, with the last payment due January 15, 2021.)



This article was written by John Waggoner for AARP:

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