Tax Deadlines in 2020 for 2019 Tax Year

For most taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service's April 15 tax filing deadline may be the only due date that rings a bell. But there are additional filing deadlines that apply to scores of other taxpayers. This is primarily because there are different types of income which are reported on different kinds of income tax returns that have different due dates. Fortunately, for the average taxpayer, the filing process just got a streamlined makeover for the 2018 tax year going forward with a newly designed 1040 form.

New Form 1040 Heads-Up

The new IRS Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) is a three-in-one consolidation of the former forms 1040, 1040-A and 1040-EZ. As you’re preparing your 2019 tax return (filed in 2020), if you formerly used any of these three paper forms, you’ll now use the new 1040. (Tax year 2017 was the last year to use these three separate forms.) If you electronically file your return, you won’t even notice the different look of the new 1040, because your tax-preparation software will simply guide you through prompts to enter your information.

Calendar Year Vs. Fiscal Year

Both a calendar year and a fiscal year are comprised of a 12-month accounting period. Although a calendar year ends on the last day of the year (Dec. 31), a fiscal year may end on another date. Companies can choose the 12-month accounting period that works best for them – this is their fiscal year – regardless of whether this period coincides with the calendar year.

This is significant when considering tax return deadlines because fiscal-year taxpayers have different filing deadlines than calendar-year taxpayers if their fiscal year ends on a date other than Dec. 31. As a rule of thumb, fiscal-year tax returns are due on or before the fifteenth day of the fourth month after the end of an entity's fiscal year. If a fiscal-year due date falls on a weekend or a federal holiday, the filing deadline shifts to the next business day.

Tax Return Filing Deadlines

To ensure your tax return meets its filing deadline, the IRS specifically defines what it considers "filed on time." If you're mailing a paper tax return, it must be properly addressed, with sufficient postage, postmarked and mailed by the due date. So, for example, if you're filing a Form 1040 with a due date of April 15, it must be postmarked and mailed no later than April 15.


  • If you're e-filing your tax return, you must electronically transmit the return by the due date, according to the date and time in the time zone from which it's transmitted.

For example, if you live in Georgia and you transmit your tax return at 12:01 a.m. on April 16, it's late, even though at that same moment in California it's only 9:01 p.m. on April 15.

Certain military personnel may have extended tax filing guidelines, notably those who served, or are currently serving, in a combat zone or contingency operation – or those who are hospitalized as a result of an injury they received in these two circumstances. IRS Publication 3 (Armed Forces' Tax Guide) notes that these service members have 180 days to file a return and pay income tax after leaving a combat zone or contingency operation, according to the guidelines contained in the publication. This publication gives additional guidelines for qualifying service members who may receive up to one year to file a return and pay income tax.

1040 Individual Tax Return Deadlines

If you file the 1040 individual tax return, “individual” doesn’t imply you’re filing as a single person. You can have a filing status of married, separated, head of household, widow(er) or single to file an individual tax return. This term simply differentiates individuals from other entities such as corporations, business partnerships, trusts and estates.

  • Form 1040 filing deadline – April 15, 2020

Living and Working Outside U.S.

United States citizens and resident aliens who are living and working outside the U.S. or Puerto Rico and active military personnel can file their 1040 returns later than the April 15 due date for other taxpayers.

  • Form 1040 filing deadline for taxpayers living and working abroad – June 15, 2020

Combat zone participants may be able to extend their filing dates beyond June 15.

Estimated Tax Payment Deadlines

Self-employed, calendar-year taxpayers (and other individual filers who have fourth-quarter income) must make quarterly estimated tax payments on IRS Form 1040-ES (Estimated Tax for Individuals).

Form 1040-ES quarterly filing deadlines:

  • Jan. 15, 2020 (for 4th quarter 2019)
  • April 15, 2020 (for 1st quarter 2020)
  • June 15, 2020 (for 2nd quarter 2020)
  • Sept. 15, 2020 (for 3rd quarter 2020)
  • Jan.15, 2021 (for 4th quarter 2020) 

Corporations Tax Return Deadline

Incorporated businesses, including C corporations, but not including S corporations, are required to file IRS Form 1120 (U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return) for calendar-year returns or the first yearly installment of estimated income.

  • Form 1120 filing deadline – April 15, 2020

S Corporations Tax Return Deadline

Businesses that are legally established as S corporations are required to file IRS Form 1120-S (U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation) for calendar-year returns.

  • Form 1120-S filing deadline – March 16, 2020

Partnership Tax Return Deadlines

Businesses established as partnerships are required to file IRS Form 1065 (U.S. Return of Partnership Income).

  • Form 1065 filing deadline – March 16, 2020

Estates Tax Return Deadline

Executors must file IRS Form 706 (United States Estate [and Generation-Skipping Transfer] Tax Return) for tax year 2019 for gross estates that total more than $11.4 million (adjusted for tax-exempt gift exclusions and any applicable exemptions).

  • Form 706 filing deadline – within 9 months after the decedent's death

Trusts and Estates Tax Deadline

Fiduciaries of U.S. decedent's estate, trust or bankruptcy estate must file IRS Form 1041 (U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts) to report estate-generated income, including gains and losses, and employment taxes paid to household staff.

  • Form 1041 calendar-year filing deadline – April 15, 2020

Gift Tax Return Deadline

Individual taxpayers who made a gift of more than $15,000 to any one recipient must file IRS Form 709 (United States Gift [and Generation-Skipping Transfer] Tax Return), even though there may be no income tax assessed on these gifts (according to the IRS-allowable lifetime exclusion of $11.4 million).

  • Form 709 filing deadline – April 15, 2020 (for gifts made in 2019)

Tax-Exempt Organizations Tax Return Deadlines

Even though an entity is a tax-exempt organization, charitable trust or a Section 527 political organization, it typically must still file an annual information return (Form 990 Series) to report transactions under IRS Section 6033.

  • Form 990 Series calendar-year filing deadline – May 15, 2020
  • Form 990 Series fiscal-year filing deadline – by the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of the organization's accounting period

1040 Tax Extension Deadlines

Taxpayers who run into a little difficulty to meet 1040 tax filing deadlines can apply for an automatic extension to file.


  • Although a filing extension allows taxpayers to file a late tax return without penalty, it does not allow them to pay their tax late without penalty.

They'll typically have to include their tax payment when they file for this extension. By filing IRS Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return), taxpayers receive an automatic six month extension to file their returns – to Oct. 15 instead of April 15. You'll find Form 4868 by visiting and searching for it by number.

  • Form 4868 calendar-year filing deadline – April 15, 2020

Non-1040 Tax Extension Deadlines

Taxpayers who file tax returns other than the 1040 may have different filing extension time frames that they'll request on different extension forms. For example, if you file a trust and estate tax return on Form 1041, you'll request an automatic extension of 5 and 1/2 months on Form 7004. And if you file a C-corporation tax return, you'll request an automatic extension of seven months if your fiscal year ends on June 30. Check the instructions for your specific tax form to find the extension guidelines and the specific form to request your extension.

Late-Filing and Late-Payment Penalties

If you fail to file your tax return (or request an extension) by its due date or by its tax extension deadline, you’re looking at a potential three-fold penalty:

  • Late-filing penalty. This 5 percent penalty is calculated each month (or part of a month) on the unpaid taxes you owe, up to five months. If you file more than 60 days past the due date, your penalty is either $215 or 100 percent of the taxes you owe, whichever is lower. A failure-to-file penalty is reduced by the amount of a failure-to-pay penalty during any month that both penalties apply.
  • Late-payment penalty. Even if you request an extension by the filing deadline, but you don't pay your taxes when you file the extension, you’ll still owe a late-payment penalty. This penalty is assessed monthly, calculated at 0.5 percent of the tax you owe on the unpaid balance of your total tax bill (or 0.25 percent of the tax you failed to pay on an approved installment agreement).
  • Interest penalty. Your unpaid tax balance begins accruing interest, which is compounded daily, beginning only one day after the filing deadline. The IRS calculates this changing interest rate as 3 percent added to the current federal short-term rate.

Reasonable Cause Penalty Relief

If you find yourself unable to pay your tax debt, it’s important to note that the IRS may be able to work with you, on a case-by-case basis, depending on the reason(s) for your inability to pay. If the IRS deems you to have “reasonable cause” and “sound reasons” for your financial dilemma, it may be able to offer you penalty relief. Among other examples, “sound reasons” include your inability to obtain necessary tax records, serious illness and natural disasters.

State Tax Return E-File Update

The IRS and states have jointly ruled that taxpayers cannot e-file their state tax returns without also filing their federal tax returns. Although you can use tax-preparation software to prepare your state return ahead of time, you won't be able to transmit it unless you've already e-filed your federal return or if you transmit the two returns simultaneously. You can, however, electronically transmit your federal tax return regardless of whether you also e-file your state return.


About the Author

Victoria Lee Blackstone was formerly with Freddie Mac’s mortgage acquisition department, where she funded multi-million-dollar loan pools for primary lending institutions, worked on a mortgage fraud task force and wrote the convertible ARM section of the company’s policies and procedures manual. Currently, Blackstone is a professional writer with expertise in the fields of mortgage, finance, budgeting and tax. She is the author of more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.