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U.S. finally reaches May 17 federal tax filing deadline

Taxpayers need to pay their federal taxes by the end of the day unless they have filed for an extension

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Photo (c) Anna Blazhuk - Getty Images
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gave Americans an extra month to file their federal income taxes, and that deadline has finally arrived. Returns must be postmarked with today’s date in order to be filed on time.

The extra time was granted because of the pandemic, and many people needed it. If even more time is needed, taxpayers can file Form 4868 for an automatic extension. The extension gives you until October 15 to file your federal return. However, it does not give you more time to pay any taxes you owe. 

When you file Form 4868 for an extension, you are required to send the IRS an estimated amount of the taxes you owe by using the information available to you. Failure to send the required money will result in penalties and interest charges.

There are some exceptions to today’s deadline. The IRS announced last week that victims of spring storms in Tennessee will have until August 2 to file their returns. Residents of Lousiana, Texas, and Oklahoma will also have until June 15 to file their taxes because of winter storms these states suffered earlier this year.

Taxes paid on unemployment benefits are being refunded

Meanwhile, the IRS this week could be sending you some money. The agency said it will begin sending out refunds on unemployment insurance taxes that millions of Americans paid last year.

Under current tax law, you have to pay taxes on unemployment benefits. Normally, people estimate and pay those taxes on a quarterly basis. But the latest stimulus law, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that was enacted in March, did more than just send most Americans $1,400. It excluded the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal taxes. About 10 million taxpayers fall into that category.

Starting this week, the IRS will begin sending out the refunds. The agency says single taxpayers will probably be the first to receive a refund, while married couples filing jointly will get their money later. The agency says it expects to complete the process by the end of the summer.

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include information on tax filing extensions for consumers in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

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