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When's the Last Day to File Taxes? Key Dates, Deadlines, and Definitions

Mario Quijada
A woman calculating her taxes for the financial year.
Tax season is here, and the clock is ticking. As April 16th looms for last-minute filers, arm yourself with need-to-know dates, deadlines, and key definitions to avoid penalties and delayed refunds.

Payroll services help make tax prep seamless, but knowing the fundamentals sets you up for even more savings. As a finance expert, I know this season can be stressful. The process takes considerable time and money—the average American spends 13 hours and $250 each year just on filing taxes.

This worry hits especially hard for last-minute filers. Learning some basics and using a provider like Gusto can streamline the process and potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

I'll translate complex tax rules and terminology using my finance, mortgage, and investing background. We'll cover key dates, deadlines, and terms to help you understand everything you need to know about filing taxes.

» Tired of calculating tax contributions by hand? Learn how to choose a payroll provider.

When Is the 2024 Tax Deadline?

For most individual filers, the federal tax return and payment end date is April 16th, 2024. You can file for a six-month extension to October 15th, but estimated tax payments are still due April 16th to avoid penalties.

Business tax deadlines differ by entity. Partnerships, calendar year S-corps, and multi-member limited liability companies (LLCs) must be filed by March 15th. Entities using a fiscal year should file by the 15th day of the third month after their year closes.

For example, a company with a June 30th fiscal year end has a tax filing due date of September 15th. Meeting filing and payment cut-off points help you avoid penalties from the IRS.

When's the Last Day to File Taxes

Key Dates for Tax Deadlines:

For Individuals

This includes employees, retirees, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and freelance laborers.

  • January 31st - Final day to receive Form W-2 from your employer. This reports your annual income and tax withholdings.
  • April 15th - Tax filing deadline to submit your previous year's returns and any tax payments you owe to the IRS. Submit an extension form if you need more time.
  • June 15th - The cut-off point for filing returns and paying taxes is if you have already submitted an extension request by April 15th this year.
  • September 15th - The due date for making third-quarter estimated tax payments to the IRS for the current tax year. It helps avoid underpayment penalties.
  • October 15th - If you requested an extension by April 15th, your new due date to submit returns is now in effect.
  • December 31st – Last chance to reduce this current year's tax liability. Make contributions, investment moves, or withholdings adjustments by this date.

For Businesses

This includes LLCs, C-corps (Form 1120), and S-corps (Form 1120-S).

  • January 31st - Deadline for businesses to mail out 1099 forms to contractors and freelancers who were paid over $600 during the prior tax year.
  • March 15th - Cut-off date for the first quarterly estimated tax payment for self-employed individuals and corporations to prevent penalties for underpayment.
  • April 15th - Submit last year's tax returns by this date if you're a partnership, LLC, S-corp, or C-corp on a calendar year.
  • June 15th - The second quarterly estimated tax payment is due for the self-employed and corporations. It's also the cut-off point for taxpayers requesting an extension to file returns.
  • September 15th - Third quarterly tax estimate payment target date for businesses to avoid underpayment penalties.
  • October 15th - Extended filing due date for partnerships and S-corps that submitted an extension by April 15th.
  • December 15th - The last date to pay the fourth quarter estimated tax and make deductions or equipment purchases to lower business taxes.

Tax Terms Overview

It gives you the information you need to file your taxes. Your employer sends it to summarize how much they paid you last year and the taxes they took from your paychecks. It shows your total wages, salary, tips, and any federal, state, Social Security, or Medicare tax that was withheld from your pay.
This is the standard tax form for US citizens to file their annual income tax return. It requires taxpayers to report their income, deductions, credits, and other relevant financial information to calculate their tax liability or refund.
Filing status
It determines how your tax return is filed and affects your tax rates and eligibility for certain deductions and credits. Common filing statuses include single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.
A child or relative who relies on you for financial support. You can claim dependents on your tax return to qualify for certain tax benefits, like child tax credit or dependent care credit.
Deductions reduce how much of your income is taxed. When you file your tax return, you can subtract certain expenses from your total income. This lowers your taxable income and saves you money. Common deductions are for things like mortgage interest, medical bills, donations to charity, and state and local taxes paid.
Tax credit
Tax credits directly cut your tax bill. They lower your taxes dollar-for-dollar, unlike deductions that reduce your taxable income. Some examples include earned income tax credits, child tax credits, and education credits. They give you a bigger benefit and can even result in a tax refund.
Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
The number that your taxable income is based on. To determine your AGI, add all taxable income, like your pay, interest, and dividends. Then, subtract deductions like educator expenses or contributions to a retirement account. The result is your AGI, which estimates what you owe in taxes.
Standard deduction
The standard deduction gives you an automatic tax break. You can subtract this amount from your adjusted gross income if you don't itemize deductions. It lowers your taxable income to help reduce what you owe. The standard deduction changes yearly and depends on whether your filing status is single, married, filing jointly, etc.
Taxable income
Taxable income determines how much tax you owe. First, add up all sources of income, like your wages and investment dividends. Then, subtract deductions you qualify for, like the standard deduction or medical expenses. Finally, remove any additional exemptions if eligible.
An exemption for each dependent you claim on your tax return reduces your taxable income, saving you money on taxes. You can take exemptions for each qualifying child or relative listed on your tax filing.
Tax withholding
The amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck by your employer to cover your income tax liability.
Capital gains
Profits earned from selling assets like stocks, bonds, or real estate may be subject to capital gains tax.

Why Should I File My Taxes on Time?

Filing your taxes on time helps you avoid late fees and interest, follow US tax laws and regulations, and take advantage of refunds or deductions. It also makes financial planning easier and gives you peace of mind since you know everything is taken care of.

For individuals, being punctual with your taxes means less stress, no legal issues, and making the most of financial benefits. For businesses, filing taxes on time boosts your credibility and ensures you comply with laws. It also aids in strategic planning, keeps you from paying penalties, protects your reputation, and helps you efficiently use resources.

 Why Should I File My Taxes on Time

What Are the Consequences of Being Late With Tax Filing?

When you don't file your taxes on time, you open the door to various problems. Here's what can happen:

  • Penalties and interest: First off, the IRS will hit you with late fees and interest charges, increasing your final amount owed.
  • Audits: Being late can also flag you for audits. This means tax authorities will take a closer look at your finances, which can be stressful and time-consuming.
  • Lost benefits: Missing the cut-off point might mean you forfeit tax breaks, like credits or deductions, you could've claimed. Essentially, you're leaving money on the table.
  • Damage to your financial reputation: Not sticking to tax laws can harm your credibility. This could affect your ability to get loans or engage in other economic activities.
  • Legal trouble: In extreme cases, it can lead to legal action, including hefty fines or criminal charges.

Advantages of Filing Taxes on Time

Filing your taxes on time brings many benefits. Here's a simplified breakdown:

  • Builds trust: Being punctual with your taxes shows you're reliable. This trust is essential in your relationships with clients and colleagues.
  • Reduces stress: You'll avoid the last-minute hustles, leading to less worry and a better balance between work and life.
  • Improves planning: It helps with better planning and coordination. It makes projects run smoother because you can properly allocate resources without any rush.
  • Boosts productivity: Without the pressure of looming submission dates, you can do a thorough job and make necessary revisions, which boosts your overall productivity.
  • Enhances your reputation: Consistently meeting deadlines boosts your reputation, opening up more opportunities and collaborations.

What Are Tax Extensions?

Tax extensions give you extra time to file your return. In the US, you can get a six-month extension. For individuals, this means filing Form 4868 to push your deadline to October 15th. Businesses use a different form, like Form 7004 for corporations, to get the same six-month extension.

An extension buys you valuable time to gather paperwork, tackle thorny tax problems, and relieve the stress of an impending cut-off date. However, you should still pay any owed taxes by the original submission date to dodge penalties and interest charges.

So, if you're considering asking for more time, understand your tax situation or talk to a provider like ADP. This way, you can avoid any later surprises with fees or charges.

What Are Tax Extensions

How Does My Income Type Affect Tax Filing Rules?

Earned Income

Earned income includes what you make from your job—like wages, salaries, tips, and bonuses. It's essential for tax purposes because it's taxed differently than other types of income.

If you're filing your taxes at the last minute, ensure you have all your job-related documents ready, such as W-2 forms. You need to accurately report the money you've earned to avoid issues.

Investment Income

Investment income refers to money gained from investments rather than a job. Common types include:

  • Interest: The money generated from a savings account or bond. For example, if you have $10,000 in a savings account with a 1% annual rate, you would make $100 in interest.
  • Dividends: Your cut of profits paid out from a stock you own. If a company where you have shares distributes dividends, you must report them.
  • Capital gains: The profit you make from selling an investment for a higher price than you purchased it for. For example, if you bought a stock for $50 per share and sold it later at $80 per share, your capital gain would be $30 per share.

Investment income is taxed differently than earned income from jobs. The rates vary based on the type of investment, how long you held it, and your tax bracket. When filing taxes last minute, ensure you have the following forms handy: 1099-INT for interest income, 1099-DIV for dividends, and 1099-B for capital gains/losses.

Self-Employment Income

When you're self-employed, accurately reporting your income and deductions is essential, especially if you're filing taxes at the last minute. Here are some examples of what to keep in mind:

Income Reporting

  • If you're a freelance graphic designer, include all the payments you receive from clients.
  • As a consultant, report all fees earned from businesses or individuals.
  • For small business owners, include all sales revenues minus any returns or allowances.

Deductible Business Expenses

  • Office supplies: If you buy paper, pens, or software for your work, you can deduct these.
  • Home office: If you use a part of your home exclusively for business, you might subtract a portion of your rent or mortgage, utilities, and internet.
  • Travel expenses: Travel-related costs, like visiting clients or attending conferences, also count as business expenses.
  • Equipment: The price of computers, printers, or other equipment necessary for your work can often be deducted over time.

Estimated Tax Payments

  • You may need to make estimated tax payments each quarter to avoid penalties. This means calculating your yearly earnings and paying a portion of your expected tax liability every three months.
  • For example, if you expect to earn $50,000 this year, you may owe around $10,000 in total taxes. Given this tax liability, you should pay the IRS $2,500 quarterly to avoid penalties.

Challenges With Last-Minute Tax Filing

Filing taxes at the last minute invites trouble. Rushing leads to careless mistakes and delays as you scramble to collect paperwork and race against the clock. Meanwhile, heavy customer traffic overloads software and lengthens wait times for assistance.

Instead, start gathering tax documents as early as January. When you receive your W-2, 1099s, and other reporting statements, set them aside to review when you file your return. Clear time on your calendar at least eight to 10 weeks before tax day to prepare all your files.

Challenges With Last-Minute Tax Filing

5 Tips to Manage Last-Minute Tax Filing

  1. Organize documents: Gather necessary tax documents like W-2s, 1099s, and receipts in one place to streamline filing.
  2. Use tax software: Use tax software to simplify filing and ensure accuracy. Many platforms like TurboTax and H&R Block offer guidance and automatic calculations.
  3. Prioritize big deductions: Focus on mortgage interest, charitable giving, and medical expenses.
  4. File for an extension: Request more time if needed. But remember, this only extends the filing deadline, not payment due dates.
  5. Seek professional help: Consider hiring a tax pro like Quickbooks to assist with last-minute filing and ensure compliance.

Why You Should Use a Payroll Company for Tax Filing

The benefits of using a payroll company include:

  • Time savings: Outsourcing payroll tasks to services like SurePayroll saves you valuable time that you would otherwise spend on complex tax calculations, form generation, and filing processes.
  • Accuracy: Services like Justworks employ experts who ensure accurate tax calculations and compliance with constantly evolving tax laws and regulations, reducing the risk of errors and penalties.
  • Compliance assurance: Reputable payroll brands stay updated with the latest tax requirements, guaranteeing that you remain compliant with federal, state, and local tax laws and minimizing the risk of audits and legal issues.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Automated payroll systems streamline processes, allowing for faster data entry, tax form generation, and filing, which can improve your overall efficiency and productivity.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that professionals like Paychex are handling your payroll tasks can give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on core operations and strategic initiatives.

» Which payroll service is better for your needs? Deluxe vs. Square.

The Final Push: Getting Your Taxes Done in Time

I realize it's easy to procrastinate when taxes seem complicated or daunting. However, meeting filing and payment deadlines can help you avoid penalties, receive any refunds sooner, and prevent future hassles with the IRS.

I advise allocating time as soon as possible to gather documents, utilizing online tools and resources to simplify the process, and seeking professional tax help if you need it.

» Here's how to organize your business for the new year.

Mario Quijada
Mario Quijada uses his background in finance and mortgages to write about financial topics for Top10, offering clear insights into financial markets and investment strategies. Mario focuses on guiding individuals toward their financial goals through accurate and in-depth writing.