As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened in the United States earlier this year, the Treasury Department moved the deadline for individual income tax returns to July 15, three months later than the usual April Tax Day.
However, there's more to the story than just a delay in the tax-filing deadline. The July 15 deadline applies to several other tax-related deadlines as well, extensions are still possible, and there could be a way for taxpayers to increase their 2019 refund -- even if they've already filed.
Here's what else is due on July 15
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Treasury Department decided to push the 2019 tax deadline from April 15 to July 15, giving Americans an additional three months to both file and pay their 2019 taxes.
However, the July 15 deadline isn't only significant for tax return purposes. Other tax deadlines that would ordinarily have taken place over the past few months have also been delayed.
One big example is estimated tax payments. Independent contractors and other self-employed individuals are typically required to make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS. In typical years, the schedule looks like this:
Due Date for Estimated Tax Payment
Jan. 1-March 31
April 1-May 31
June 1-Aug. 31
Sept. 1-Dec. 31
Jan. 15 of the following year
For 2020, however, the deadlines for the first and second estimated tax payments have both been extended to July 15. In other words, self-employed Americans now have the same deadline for their 2019 taxes and their first two estimated tax payments of the year.
Other deadlines that were typically from April 1 through July 14 have also ben pushed back, and the IRS has compiled a non-exhaustive list of those that are most common.
You can still get an extension, but need to pay now
If you still need more time to prepare your 2019 tax return, it's important to point out that just like with any other tax year, you can request an extension.
An extension is an automatic process for most taxpayers, and can be requested with a simple form, either by mail or online. Extensions are typically for six months, but this year it will only be a three-month extension due to the change in the tax deadline. In a nutshell, if you request an extension, you'll have until October 15 to submit your 2019 tax return.
However, it's important to emphasize that an extension gives you more time to file, not more time to pay. Any outstanding balance will still be due on July 15, even if your tax return isn't ready to file. The best course of action is to determine a ballpark estimate of how much you're going to owe and submit this amount along with your extension, or separately before the July 15 deadline passes.
You can still make 2019 contributions to IRAs and HSAs
Another interesting provision of the extended tax deadline is that it also extends the ability to make 2019 contributions to individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).
Here's why this is so significant. Contributions to traditional IRAs and HSAs are tax-deductible up to the IRS's annual maximum, and can be made until the tax deadline for each year. For the 2019 tax year, the traditional IRA contribution limit is $6,000 for eligible individuals under 50 or $7,000 for people 50 and older. And the 2019 HSA limit is $3,500 for eligible Americans with individual health coverage or $7,000 for family coverage.
For example, if you are 45 years old, married, and have an HSA-eligible family health plan, that means that you can contribute as much as $19,000 to these accounts (if both spouses make their own IRA contributions). If you're in the 22% tax bracket, this translates to $4,180 in tax savings if you max out all of these contributions. And thanks to the extended tax deadline in 2020, you have until July 15 to get them in.
It's also important to note that even if you've already filed your 2019 tax return, you can still take advantage and get a refund for the additional tax savings you'd be entitled to. The IRS allows taxpayers to file an amended tax return, which can be used to report traditional IRA and HSA contributions, even after you file your return.
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