When Are Taxes Due? May 17, 2021 Tax Day & Tax Deadline

Tax day, the deadline to file & pay taxes, is May 17, 2021 instead of April 15. There are other tax deadlines, too.
Tina Orem, Kay BellApr 28, 2021
April 18 Isn't Just the Tax-Filing Deadline

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When is tax day?

Tax day is Monday, May 17, 2021. This is the tax deadline to file your federal income tax return. The IRS extended the deadline from April 15, 2021.

Do you have to file taxes by May 17?

No, but there's a catch. If you request a tax extension by May 17, 2021, your tax return will be due on Oct. 15, 2021. However, your tax bill will still be due on May 17, 2021. Getting a tax extension provides more time to file your tax return, but it does not provide more time to pay your taxes.

Tax deadline for quarterly estimated payments

The IRS requires quarterly estimated tax payments from many people whose income isn’t subject to payroll withholding tax (usually the self-employed, independent contractors or people with investment earnings). For estimated taxes, the answer to "when are taxes due?" varies: The year is divided into four payment periods, and each period has its own payment due date.

If you earned income during this period

Estimated tax payment deadline

Sept. 1 - Dec. 31, 2020

Jan. 15, 2021

Jan. 1 – Mar. 31, 2021

April 15

April 1 – May 31, 2021

June 15

June 1 – Aug. 31, 2021

Sept. 15

Sept. 1 – Dec. 31, 2021

Jan. 18, 2022

6 tax moves to consider before the tax deadline

1. File your 2017 tax return (yes, 2017)

If you were due a refund for the 2017 tax year but didn't file a tax return, you only have until May 17 (Tax Day) to submit that old Form 1040 and claim your money. So if you haven’t filed, get to work! Miss the tax deadline, and the U.S. Treasury gets to keep your money.

2. Max out your 401(k) by Dec. 31

Contributions to a traditional 401(k) reduce your total taxable income for the year.

For example, let’s say you make $65,000 a year and put $19,500 (the limit in 2020) into your 401(k). Instead of paying income taxes on the entire $65,000 you earned, you’ll only owe on $45,500 of your salary. In other words, saving for the future lets you shield $19,500 from taxes (and even more if you're 50 or older; read more here). Many employers offer to match a portion of what you save, meaning that if you contribute enough to your account, you'll also nab some free money.

3. Contribute to or open an IRA by Tax Day

Contributions to a traditional IRA can be tax-deductible. You have until the May 17, 2021, tax deadline to contribute to an IRA, either Roth or traditional, for the 2020 tax year. The maximum contribution amount for either type of IRA is $6,000 — or $7,000 if you're age 50 or older. See all the rules here.

4. Contribute to your Health Savings Account

This medical account, available to individuals who have a high-deductible health plan, provides a tax-saving way to pay for out-of-pocket costs. You have until the May 17, 2021, tax deadline to contribute to an HSA for the 2020 tax year. The 2020 limits were $3,550 for an individual HSA owner and $7,100 for a family. For 2021, the individual coverage contribution limit is $3,600 and the family coverage limit is $7,200. If you're 55 or older, you can put an extra $1,000 in your HSA.

5. File for an extension by Tax Day (but still pay)

If you can't finish your return by the May 17 tax deadline, file IRS Form 4868. This will buy most taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file their tax returns. See more about how extensions work. Note: A tax extension gets you more time to file your return, not more time to pay your taxes. You still must pay any tax you owe, or a good estimate of that amount, by the tax deadline. Include that payment with your extension request or you could face a late-payment penalty on the taxes due.

6. When are taxes due in your state?

Be sure to find out when your local Tax Day is. Most taxpayers face state income taxes, and most of the states that have an income tax follow the federal tax deadline. Ask your state's tax department: When are taxes due? (And if necessary, ask: How do I get an extension?)

Frequently asked questions

Yes. For 2021, Tax Day was originally April 15, but as part of the government's ongoing coronavirus response, Tax Day was moved to May 17.

No. The tax deadline in 2021 is May 17. If you need to make an estimated tax payment for the first quarter, that payment was due on April 15, though.

If you request a tax extension by May 17, you can have until October 15 to file your taxes.

  • However, getting a tax extension only gives you more time to file the paperwork; it does not give you more time to pay.

  • If you can't pay your tax bill when it's due, the IRS offers installment plans that will let you pay over time. You can apply for one on the IRS website. (Here's how it works.)

Related terms

See what forms you have to fill out and what an extension really gets you. Learn more.

See our picks for this year and how much they cost. Learn more.

See how these retirement plans can cut your tax bill. Learn more.

Here's how to get it done quickly. Learn more.

You might have a state tax return to file this year, too. Learn more.

Paying this way can help avoid penalties and interest. Learn more.

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