Coronavirus and Tax Day: Deadline extended, but you can file now for a refund

Federal tax payments will be deferred until July 15 without penalty.

Getty Images

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Normally, April 15 each year is a mad dash to file your taxes before the federal and state deadline, but this year is different. Because of the coronavirus the US Treasury is giving you three more months to file and pay your federal taxes without a penalty — and many states are following suit. With the extension, you now have until July 15 to file your tax returns, but there are still benefits to filing earlier rather than later.

Along with sending coronavirus stimulus checks, pushing back Tax Day is a way to help those struggling with the effects of the pandemic.

Here’s what we know about the new federal tax cut-off, and how to find out if your state also has a new deadline to file returns. You can also learn everything you need to know about coronavirus and unemployment, some resources to help you if you’ve lost your job and more information on credit card and banking relief.

Read more: Best tax software for 2020

Now playing:
Watch this:

How to file a tax extension during the COVID-19 pandemic


What are the new federal tax deadlines?

You now have till July 15 to pay your federal taxes. The three-month extension is automatically available to any federal taxpayer, without a limit on amount owed, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations, noncorporations and those who pay self-employment tax. 

Why you might want to file now

Waiting is one strategy, but keep in mind that the quicker you file, the quicker you’ll get your refund, if one is owed to you. Most tax refunds are issued within three weeks. Your tax refund does not affect your coronavirus stimulus payment, if you’re eligible. Right now, the IRS is open and processing tax returns, but it has closed its Taxpayer Assistance Centers, where you could get help in person with tax questions.


Tax day is pushed back.

Angela Lang/CNET

Is there a penalty for paying after July 15?

To avoid a penalty for filing after July 15, you’ll need to request an extension and pay your estimated taxes by the cutoff date. See below for details on how to request an extension.

How do I get the federal tax extension as an individual taxpayer?

According to the IRS, you don’t have to do anything to qualify for the automatic July 15 extension, such as filing a form or calling the IRS. If, however, you need to request an extension beyond July 15, head to the IRS free-file service and file Form 4868. According to the IRS, with Form 4868, you still have to pay your estimated taxes by July 15 to avoid penalties but have till Oct. 15 to file your tax return. The Department of the Treasury did not respond to a request for comment.

As a business, can I also defer my payment?

Yes. Businesses can also get the July 15 extension to pay taxes without interest or penalties. According to the IRS, businesses can file Form 7004 to request a deferral beyond July 15 to file. With Form 7004, businesses still need to pay estimated taxes by July 15 to avoid penalties but have till Oct. 15 to file. The Treasury did not respond to a request for comment.

Where can I find out more information?

To see the federal tax updates, you can check the IRS’s coronavirus site.

Now playing:
Watch this:

How to direct deposit your stimulus check and not get…


Are there extensions for state tax returns, too?

According to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, every state with a personal income tax has extended its April 15 deadline, with 40 states moving to the filing deadline to July 15 and 7 others moving the date anywhere from May 15 to July 31.

If you have questions about your state, check with your state’s tax agency to learn its new filing deadline.

If you need help filing your state and federal taxes, here are the tax-preparation apps this year and how to file your taxes for free. Plus, here are the best tax deductions and tax myths you should watch out for.