Tax deadline could get delayed until mid-May — what you need to know

Tax deadline 2021
(Image credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

We're less than a month away from the usual April 15 deadline for filing your federal income tax. But a report claims that the 2021 tax deadline may get pushed back by a month, and not just to give some relief to procrastinators.

Bloomberg reports that the Internal Revenue Service plans to push back the tax filing deadline to either May 15 or May 17. (May 15 would be a month delay, but it falls on a Saturday this year, and typically, the IRS sets its filing deadlines for weekdays.) 

The decision's not official yet, as the agency looks to finalize what the actual due date will be. Bloomberg cites three sources familiar with the talks going on within the IRS, which has the ability to push back the filing deadline without any congressional intervention.

The reason for the delay should be fairly apparent — this figures to be a mess of a tax year for most people, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic introducing new wrinkles to many tax returns.

Take the stimulus bill signed into law earlier this month. It includes a tax exemption of up to $10,200 on jobless benefits, and that figures to impact returns of anyone who lost their job due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. What's more, Bloomberg notes, the 1040 tax form is where filers can claim any missed stimulus payments during the last year — there were $2,000 and $600 payments in 2019, ahead of the more recent $1,400 payment.

Even if the IRS does push back the deadline, you'll still need to find the best tax software to prepare your returns. Our reviews of programs like H&R Block Deluxe 2021 and TurboTax 2020 take into account how those programs handle COVID-instigated changes to the tax code.

However, it seems likely that the IRS will make an official announcement soon. Delaying this year's filing deadline has been supported by key Democrats and Republicans on the congressional committees overseeing tax laws. The move wouldn't be unprecedented as the filing deadline was pushed back in 2020, too, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.