Skip to content

Important IRS Tax Dates to Know for 2021

IRS won’t begin processing returns until February 12

senior working woman holding calculator with tax day words and report data on wood desk

Getty Images

En español | Taxes are due April 15, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) won’t start processing returns until February 12.

Tax Day has returned to April 15, the traditional deadline for filing federal income taxes. It was pushed forward to July 15 in 2020 because of the pandemic. 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.

IRS Tax Deadlines 2021

  • Jan 15 Final estimated tax payment for 2020 due
  • Jan 15 IRS Free File service opens to prepare 2020 returns
  • Jan 19 Free MilTax service for military opens to prepare 2020 returns
  • Feb 12 IRS begins processing 2020 returns
  • April 15 Deadline to file 2020 tax return
  • April 15 First estimated tax payment for 2021 due
  • June 15 Second estimated tax payment for 2021 due
  • Sept 15 Third estimated tax payment for 2021 due
  • Oct 15 Extended deadline to file 2020 tax return

April 15 isn't the only tax day to mark on your 2021 calendar. February 12, 2021 is the first day the IRS will start accepting and processing federal income tax forms for the 2020 tax year. The IRS says the February 12 start date for individual tax return filers will let them do additional programming and testing of IRS systems following the December 27 tax law changes that provided a second round of stimulus checks. 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.

For ways to save and more, get AARP’s monthly Money newsletter.

Even if you do file for an extension, you still have to estimate and pay your taxes due by April 15. (You don’t need to file for an extension if you file and pay before 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, your estimated taxes quarterly payments are due April 15, June 15 September 15 and January 15, 2022.

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.