Individuals can start the process of filing their taxes as soon as they have all of the required financial documents. Usually, W-2s and other prior-year documents are sent by your employer by the end of January, which is also when the IRS starts accepting tax returns.
Although the usual tax-filing deadline is April 15, many taxpayers can start filling out their tax paperwork in January. The earlier you file, the sooner you will receive your tax refund, if applicable. If you plan to hire a professional to do your taxes, you should arrange that as soon as possible to avoid delays as firms get booked up.
Deadline for filing tax returns
As is typical in the U.S., the deadline to file federal tax returns is April 15. In 2021, April 15 falls on a Thursday, so that default date remains the final day for you to file your tax returns for 2020.
One exception to having taxes due on April 15 is if the date falls on a Saturday or Sunday. In those cases, the filing deadline is never moved to an earlier date, but to the next business day. So, if April 15 falls on a Saturday one year, the tax deadline would move to Monday, April 17.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS extended the tax-filing deadline by three months to July 15. So far, a similar extension hasn't been announced. Taxpayers should plan to file their returns by April 15, 2021. Most people can file and pay taxes entirely online.
What I need to file my taxes
There are several essential documents that you need each year when filing your taxes.
- Form W-2 from your employer showing your income and deductions for the previous year
- Form 1099 from banks and other payers
- Form 1099-B for investments
- Other income documents and records of any virtual transactions
- Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Tax Payment
- Records of estimated quarterly taxes, if you are self-employed
Missing the filing deadline
Millions of households continue to struggle due to economic impacts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Paying taxes in full might be a struggle for some people. The IRS does allow you to request a six-month extension on filing your taxes if needed.
However, eFile notes that the penalties for not filing taxes on time are higher than not paying on time. Therefore, you should file your 2020 tax paperwork promptly even if you can't pay the full amount.
Claiming the stimulus check on 2020 taxes
You should retain your Notice 1444 as a record of your stimulus check payment. However, the amount of the stimulus check won't impact your tax owed and it won't reduce any potential refund. Stimulus payments from both rounds are considered tax credits. They aren't part of your taxable income, according to Fox59.
What if I didn’t get my first stimulus check?
If you haven't received your first Economic Impact Payment ($1,200 per adult + $500 per qualified child) or you received a lower amount, you may be able to file for a Recovery Rebate Credit. This also applies if you don’t receive the second stimulus check of $600 per qualifying adult and child by Jan. 15, according to CNet.