2021 Tax Filing

Is it mandatory to file a tax return? When is the deadline?

What's the tax filing deadline 2020 and how to request an extension with IRS. Free File allows you to file your federal income tax return for free.

Is it mandatory to file tax return? When is the deadline?
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Is it mandatory to file an IRS tax return?

It is not mandatory for everyone to file a tax return, but if you income falls within certain limits, then it become obligatory to do so and if you don't, you could be penalised. What's more, the income limit for mandatory tax return filing will be determined by other factors such as your type of income, age and filing status.

For example, if you are: single, under 65 years old, don't make any money through self-employment or other special circumstances and earn under $12,200 per year, you wouldn't have to file.

Use the IRS "Do I need to file a tax return?" tool to find out for sure, based on your personal circumstances. The questionnaire takes 12 minutes and you'll need your filing status, federal income tax withheld amount, and basic information so that you can determine your gross income.

When do I need to file my 2020 tax return by?

The deadline to file your federal tax return is 15 April 2021. CNBC reported in February that the IRS has no plans to extend this further, though last year it was pushed from the usual deadline of 15 April to 15 July.

If you can’t file by the due date of your return, you should request an extension of the deadline. To receive an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your return, you must file Form 4868, "Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return" by the due date of your return, so by 15 April.

Individual tax filers, regardless of income, can use Free File to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension. Filing this form gives you until 15 October to file a return. To get the extension, you must estimate your tax liability on this form and should also pay any amount due at the time.

Pay taxes at the same time as requesting deadline extension for filing

You can also get an extension by paying all or part of your estimated income tax due and indicate that the payment is for an extension using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), or a credit or debit card. This way you won’t have to file a separate extension form and you will receive a confirmation number for your records.

Even with extension, you still have to pay by 15 April

Extremely importantly, IRS clearly states that the extension of time on tax filing does not grant you an extension of time to pay your taxes. To the contrary, even if requesting an extension to file, you must estimate and pay your tax bill regardless by the regular deadline, 15 April to avoid any possible penalties.

What is "IRS Free File?"

The IRS Free File Program provides two ways for taxpayers to prepare and file their federal income tax online for free:

Income under $72,000 per year: the traditional IRS Free File system provides free online tax preparation and filing options on IRS partner sites. IRS partners are online tax preparation companies that develop and deliver this service at no cost to qualifying taxpayers. Please note, only taxpayers whose Adjusted Gross Income (or AGI)  is $72,000 or less qualify for any IRS Free File partner offers. Simply use the Free File Offer Look Up Tool and enter basic information, then you select the offer you would like, and file your taxes through the company for free.

Income over $72,000 per year: Free File Fillable Forms are electronic federal tax forms you can fill out and file online for free. If you choose this option, you should know how to prepare your own tax return. Please note, it is the only IRS Free File option available for taxpayers whose AGI is greater than $72,000.

Required documentation to file your tax return

These are the documents you will be required to complete if you'll be using the above tools to fill out your 2020 tax return:

Personal information

  • A copy of last year's tax return in order to access your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
  • Valid Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependent, if applicable

Proving your AGI: income and receipts

  • Social Security benefits documentation
  • Unemployment Compensation documentation
  • All receipts pertaining to your small business, if applicable
  • Income receipts from rental, real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporation, trusts

Other income

  • W-2s, showing your annual wages from all of your employers
  • Form 1099-G, showing any refund, credit or offset of state and local taxes
  • Forms 1099-DIV and 1099-R, showing dividends and distributions from retirement and other plans paid to you during the year

Affordable Care Act (ACA) filers

  • Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. For more information see Affordable Care Act (ACA) Tax Provisions.

File electronically

  • Verify your identity by using your 2019 AGI. If you created a 2019 personal identification number, that will work too. The personal identification number required that you create a five-digit PIN that could be any five numbers (except all zeros) that you choose which serves as your electronic signature.
  • Can't find your AGI or PIN? If you do not have a copy of your 2019 tax return, you may use the IRS Get Transcript self-help tools to get a tax return transcript showing your AGI. You have two options:
  • Online: Select the Tax Return Transcript and use only the “Adjusted Gross Income” line entry. Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools provides you with the information you need to make the request.
  • By Mail: Please allow 5 to 10 days for delivery. Use only the “Adjusted Gross Income” line entry.

Valid email address required for contact

To get a notification from the Free File software company that your return was accepted by IRS, you need a valid email address, ensure to have this ready when starting.

Recovery Rebate Credit

If you didn't receive your stimulus check - or Economic Impact Payment - or only got part of the full amount, you may be eligible ti claim the rest through a Recovery Rebate Credit

How long will it take to process my tax refund?

You will usually receive your refund within three weeks of the date when the IRS receives your return, even faster if you choose to have it directly deposited into your checking or savings account.

Though there’s a notice on the IRS advice website that states that they’re having some staffing issues, so processing paper tax returns could take several weeks longer. Taxpayers and tax professionals are encouraged to file electronically.