This post has been updated for 2019 (the 2018 tax year).
It’s January and other than frigid cold temperatures and seasonal mood disorder, you know what that means – tax season has arrived.
Someone at the IRS is apparently still working during the government shutdown, as they released a notice today that stated,
“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period.” – IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
It remains to be seen if “committed” results in returns being processed and checks being sent as quickly as prior years.
Also – stay tuned – in the coming weeks, I’ll be offering up some free tax software to readers!
When is the 2019 Tax Filing Deadline (for the 2018 Tax Year)?
This year’s IRS tax deadline is Monday, April 15, 2019. No weekend extensions to push it beyond the 15th this year, as in recent years.
3 exceptions noted thus far: with Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine, Massachusetts, and DC have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.
Tax Filing Postmark & E-File Deadline
The April 15 tax deadline does not refer to when the IRS receives your tax return. Instead, it refers to the date that the tax return is postmarked. So if you mail out your tax return on April 15 by U.S. mail and the IRS receives your tax return after that date, your return won’t be considered late. The same rule applies for e-filing your taxes. If you e-file your taxes, you must do so by April 15th as well.
When is the Tax Deadline if I’m Out of the Country?
Your tax filing deadline AND payment deadline, if you are out of country, is Monday, June 17, 2019. If you are out of country, you have an additional two months to file your taxes (from the typical April 15 date). Those eligible include:
- Those who live outside the United States and Puerto Rico and main place of work is outside the United States and Puerto Rico, or
- Those in military or naval service outside the United States and Puerto Rico (there is additional lenience for those in a combat zone, contingent operation, or who have been hospitalized).
If you qualify as being out of the country, you will still be eligible for the extension even if you are physically present in the United States. You must attach a statement to your return explaining which of the two situations qualify you for the extension.
Tax Extension Filing Deadline
If, for one reason or another, you are unable to file your tax return by the April 15 tax deadline, you can file for an IRS tax extension. Note that the extension must be postmarked by the April 15 deadline also.
Also, a key disclaimer – an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. Any taxes due are still due on the normal filing deadline date.
How to File a Tax Extension
In order to file a tax extension, you will need to fill out IRS form 4868. Note that filing the extension does not get you off of the hook, you still need to pay any estimated taxes by the April 15 deadline. If you don’t you will owe interest and possibly a penalty on your taxes owed.
The tax extension will allow simply to push back the deadline for sending in your 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR, or 1040NR-EZ six months (4 months if you are out of the country). If you’re in country, the extended tax filing deadline is Tuesday, October 15, 2019.
When Can I Start Filing Taxes?
You can start filing your taxes Monday, January 28, 2019. You can start working on your taxes sooner – however, software companies will hold your returns and cannot submit them to the IRS electronically via e-filing until Jan. 28, 2019. Paper tax returns will begin processing at the same time. Your return will not be processed prior to, and you won’t receive your refund until after your return is processed.
I would strongly caution to not file a return sooner than January 28, because software companies will often update their software to take in to account any IRS changes.
Do I Need to File a Tax Return?
You may be wondering “Do I need to file taxes?“. It’s a fair question. There may be scenarios where you do not need to file taxes, including if your income is below certain minimum income thresholds. However, even in those scenarios, it could still be advantageous to file a return, as you may be eligible for refundable tax credits.
What if I File an Incorrect or Incomplete Return?
If you’ve already filed your taxes, but later found your return to be incorrect or incomplete, here is how to file an amended tax return with the IRS. You may also need to file an amended state return.
When will I Get My Refund?
As a standard, the IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.
However, a newer law requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit until mid-February. Under the change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC — until at least Feb. 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the IRS more time to help detect and prevent fraud.
Also, with the government shutdown, I would not be surprised if there are some delays this year.
After filing, you can always check your tax refund status to see where your refund is at.
Where Should you File your Taxes?
Also, when it comes time to pay your taxes, I would recommend that you pay taxes online, as it is quicker, safer, and more reliable.
Want more tips? Check out my guide on the basics of how to do your taxes.
Tax Deadline, Extension, & Start Discussion
- When will you start preparing your taxes?
- Will you be filing a tax deadline extension this year?
- How are you preparing and filing your taxes this year?
- 2018 & 2019 Tax Brackets and Standard Deductions
- How to Change your Tax Allowances
- How Long Should you Keep Tax Records?