In response to the ongoing coronavirus emergency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering federal tax relief to Americans. It’s part of emergency declarations that were enacted due to the Stafford Act. This response will undoubtedly help citizens and businesses cope with the crisis.
But what you may not know is that changes to the tax deadline affect several aspects of your financial life. In this post, I’ll explain what coronavirus tax relief is and 10 ways it affects your finances.
1. Your federal income tax deadline is postponed
The central feature of tax relief during the coronavirus pandemic is that the due date for filing and paying your 2019 federal taxes is postposed from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.
You don’t have to be sick or negatively impacted by COVID-19 to qualify for this federal tax postponement. It applies to any person or entity, such as those who are self-employed, an unincorporated business, a corporation, estate, or trust that has 2019 taxes due on April 15. It doesn’t matter if April 15 is the original date for your return on an extension date you previously filed for—your new due date is still July 15.
There’s absolutely nothing that taxpayers need to do to take advantage of this relief.
There’s absolutely nothing that taxpayers need to do to take advantage of this relief. The postponement will happen automatically for any amount you owe or any installment payment you were asked to make on April 15.
Of course, many Americans are expecting a tax refund. When you overpay taxes during the year, the IRS settles up with you during tax season by issuing a refund.
If you’re owed a tax refund, never wait to file your tax return. The sooner you send it in, the faster you’ll receive your money back. Getting a direct deposit is always faster and safer than a paper check. So, be sure to include your banking information with your return, so you receive your refund electronically.
2. Interest and penalties begin to accrue on July 16, 2020
As a result of the postponement of the due date for filing and paying federal income taxes until July 15, 2020, you’ll get a pass on interest and penalties if you pay up by then. However, the extra fees will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020.
3. Your state income tax deadline hasn’t changed
Depending on where you live, you may have to pay state income taxes, which have not been postponed. However, it’s possible that the states affected the most by the coronavirus could enact relief measures of their own.
Depending on where you live, you may have to pay state income taxes, which have not been postponed.
Seven states don’t charge income tax, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee don’t tax earned income, but they do tax your investment income.
If you live in any of the remaining 41 states, plan on filing and paying your state taxes as usual. Check with your state’s tax agency or Department of Revenue to learn more and stay as up to date as possible.
4. You can still file a tax extension
But what if July 15 comes and you need more time? Individuals and businesses can request an automatic extension to delay filing federal taxes. However, this doesn’t give you more time to pay what you owe, only more time to submit your tax form.
To get a federal extension, individuals must submit IRS Form 4868 on IRS.gov, using tax software, or through your tax professional, before the July 15 deadline. Most incorporated businesses must file IRS Form 7004.
If you choose to file an extension request, that would give you until October 15, 2020, to file your 2019 return.
If you choose to file an extension request, that would give you until October 15, 2020, to file your 2019 return. But again, to avoid interest and penalties on any outstanding tax liability, you must pay an amount you estimate is due with your extension request.
If you need a state tax filing extension, check with your state’s tax agency to see what’s possible.
5. Taxes you already scheduled payment for can be canceled
If you’re ahead of the game and already filed your 2019 taxes and scheduled payment to occur on April 15, you have options. If you don’t want your payment to go through, you can reschedule or cancel it until two business days before the payment date.
In other words, April 10 would be the last day to make a tax payment change. However, I wouldn’t wait until the last minute if you plan to reverse or modify it.
To make a change, visit the tax payment portal you initially used and follow the instructions. If you authorized an electronic funds withdrawal from your bank account, contact a U.S. Treasury Financial Agent at 888-353-4537 to request a cancellation. And if you scheduled a tax payment using a credit card, contact the issuer to cancel the card payment.
6. Only one estimated tax deadline for businesses is postposed
Most businesses make estimated tax payments each quarter. The 2020 schedule is:
- First quarter is due on July 15, 2020, which changed from April 15, 2020
- Second quarter is due on June 15, 2020
- Third quarter is due on September 15, 2020
- Fourth quarter is due on January 15, 2021
So, the first estimated payment that businesses need to make this year will be due on June 15, 2020.
7. Other tax filing deadlines have not been postponed
What about information returns that must be filed by certain types of businesses, or taxes that are due on other dates, such as May 15 or June 15? Unfortunately, individuals and businesses that have filing or payment due dates other than April 15 don’t get any relief at this time.
Again, the assistance only applies to federal income tax returns or payments due on April 15, 2020.
8. Relief doesn’t apply to other types of taxes
If you or your business owe tax other than income tax, such as sales tax, excise tax, payroll tax, gift tax, or estate tax, you must file and pay them as usual.
9. You have more time to make HSA contributions
You typically have until April 15 to make health savings account (HSA) contributions for the prior year. Under this relief, you can now make HSA contributions for 2019 at any time until July 15, 2020.
To qualify for an HSA, you must be covered by a qualifying high-deductible health plan that you get through work or on your own. In early March, the IRS issued a notice that a high-deductible health plan may cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment before your deductibles are met. Also, just as before the coronavirus, you can pay for medical testing and treatment using funds in your HSA.
10. You have more time to make retirement contributions
Just like with an HSA, you typically have until April 15 to make contributions to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Because the tax filing date is postponed to July 15, you can make IRA contributions for 2019 at any time until July 15, 2020.
However, for most workplace retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), the deadline corresponds to the calendar year. So, December 31, 2019, was the last day to make 2019 contributions for accounts offered by an employer.
While this tax relief may not be enough to buoy many people and businesses that have been affected most by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s just one measure. There will be broader fiscal relief enacted to minimize the economic impact of this ongoing health crisis.
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