This story has been updated.
Tax season is upon us, and if you are anything like me, you wait until the last possible moment to file your taxes. It could be because we procrastinate, we spend our hours chasing little ones, or maybe Tax Day just slips our minds. It’s easy to be overwhelmed in the middle of a pandemic, especially if you’re wondering if there will be an extension like last year.
The first day to file taxes in 2021 was Feb. 12, but you still have plenty of time: April 15 was originally the last day to file taxes in 2021, but as of March 17, the IRS has announced that the new tax filing deadline for 2021 has been extended to May 17.
Here’s everything else you need to know about when and how to file your taxes in 2021.
When you have finally tucked away a little time to do your family’s taxes, make sure you have the information you need to provide to a tax preparer or complete the forms yourself. Tax returns must include the correct IRS tax form and copies of W2s, 1099 forms, and other necessary tax documents. Don’t forget to locate your dependents’ Social Security Numbers because they are required on your family’s tax return.
How can I file my taxes by May 17?
Your family’s 2020 federal income tax return must be filed by May 17. Hiring a local tax agency could be the best step, but you can always prepare your own tax return. TurboTax and TaxAct offer a free software for users to file simple tax returns. For a fee, filers can download additional tax software for more complicated tax returns through TurboTax, TaxAct, and H&R Block. If you want to go directly to the source, the Internal Revenue Service offers its Free File option for users whose income is $72,000 or less to file taxes electronically. Free File Fillable Forms are available for taxpayers making $72,000 or more at IRS.gov. The IRS recommends filing your tax return electronically by May 17 and using direct deposit for a quicker return of your refund.
If you don’t want to file electronically and prefer the old-fashioned way of pen and paper, you may find hard copies of tax forms at your local library, or you can print them from IRS.gov either at home or at a copy and print store. The envelope including your tax forms and required documents must be postmarked by May 17. Many area post offices extend hours on Tax Day, so filers have a little extra time to get their returns postmarked before they are shipped off to the IRS. Don’t forget to include the correct IRS address and adequate postage. If you choose to mail your tax return, I suggest taking photos or making copies of all of your tax documents before you drop them at the post office. If you have an iPhone, you can use the Notes app to take photos of your documents. The app then gives the option to save the “Scanned Documents” as a PDF. This little nugget of information has been a life-saver for me in recent months. What mom has time to buy ink to make copies?
What if I can’t meet the May 17 tax filing deadline?
If you don’t think you will be able to file your family’s 2020 federal income tax return either electronically or postmarked by the May 17 deadline, you may decide to file for an extension. If you are entitled to an extension, the extension deadline to file your 2020 federal tax return is October 15, 2021. You can find out more information at IRS.gov.