1. Personal Returns Are Due April 15th
If you have to file a personal tax return, and you probably do, that return will need to be filed by April 15th, 2021, in order to avoid potential penalties.
When can you file taxes?
As soon as you have all of the necessary paperwork, although that doesn’t mean it will be processed immediately. In fact, you may not be able to e-file right away, as it is common for the IRS to wait until late January to formally begin accepting returns. If you expect a refund, you will likely want to watch for returns to be accepted and then file yours right away.
2. Final Estimated Tax Payment Due January 15th, 2021
Are you self-employed, or do you earn at least a portion of your income independently? If so, you may be required to pay estimated (or quarterly) taxes periodically throughout the year. The final due date for your last 2020 estimated tax payment will be January 15th, 2021.
It is important to make this final payment on time (along with the rest of the payments, of course) as you can incur penalties if your payments are late or insufficient. To determine with certainty whether or not you need to make estimated payments, you may want to consult with your tax professional.
3. Employers Must Mail Form W2 by February 1st
If you are a business owner who has employees, you must mail the W-2 to the employee by February1st. This deadline is important, of course, as employees will not be able to proceed with their tax filing until they are given this form. It is a good idea to get started on this task as soon as possible in January to make sure there are no problems hitting this deadline.
4. Final Day for 401(k) Contribution is April 15th
401(k) contributions are one of the most popular tax deductions, but you have to make sure to play by the rules in order to obtain the maximum benefit. For one thing, you have to make sure the contribution is made prior to the tax filing deadline for the year in question. For example, if you want your tax contribution to count as a deduction in 2020, you’ll need to make that contribution no later than April 15th, 2021.
If you make automatic contributions through your employer, you will probably be done contributing when the end of the calendar year passes. However, if you choose to make deductions in early 2021, which you will apply to the 2020 tax year, that is acceptable. You can have your contributions made in early 2021 (before April 15th) marked for the 2020 tax year, or you can ‘save’ them to use next year.
5. State Taxes Vary by State
Do you live in a state which requires you to file a state income tax return? If so, you’ll need to confirm the specific date that you are required to file for the 2020 tax year. Many states match up their date with the federal return deadline, so you might have even more work to do by April 15th. However, some states opt for slightly later dates, giving you some extra time to finish up.
Either way, you should take the same advice we offered earlier for your federal return and get to work on your state return as soon as possible. As long as you are in ‘tax mode’ while working on your federal return, you might as well take care of the state return and put this matter to bed for another year.