If you haven’t filed taxes yet, it’s time to start preparing by putting together your important tax documents. The deadline to file taxes is April 15, 2024, and while it’s still two months away, it’s best to start preparing early.

In this guide, we’ve made a list of all the important dates you need to be aware of this tax season, along with information on how to request an extension.

When Are Taxes Due In 2024?

The deadline to file your 2023 state and federal income tax returns and pay any tax you owe is April 15, 2024, for most taxpayers. Those living in Massachusetts or Maine can file by April 17, 2024, due to the Emancipation Day and Patriot Day holidays.  

If you expect you will not be ready to file your income tax returns by that date, you are allowed to request an extension for filing your returns to October 15th, 2024, provided you file a Form 4868 and pay any estimated income taxes you owe, upfront, by April 15th.  

The due dates for state income tax returns usually follow the federal tax deadlines, but there may be exceptions based on state-specific holidays where state government offices are closed and/or may not be accepting electronic or paper returns. Filing several days (or weeks) before the tax deadline will ensure you don’t have to pay any late filing penalties and that you can get the tax refund deposited into your bank account on time.

Can You Request a Tax Deadline Extension? 

If you need more time to prepare your tax returns for the fiscal year 2023, you can file an income tax filing extension using IRS Form 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return by April 15th. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) almost always offers a six-month extension for filing returns to anyone who requests it because a condition of filing an extension is that you pay a minimum of 100% of your estimated income taxes due by April 15th.  In other words, extending your filing deadline to October does not change the deadline for payment of any tax that will be due when you finally submit your returns in October. If you think you will owe, estimate the amount and pay it by the April tax return filing due date.

So, keep in mind that while you’ll have until October to file your taxes with an extension of time, you still need to pay the estimated amount of taxes you owe by the April 15th deadline, which is also the tax payment deadline, to avoid any late penalties. To request an extension, fill out the IRS Form 4868 and submit it online or mail a paper version to the IRS (your paper application’s envelope must be postmarked no later than 11:59 PM, local time, on April 15th, 2024 to be accepted).

We recommend speaking to a tax professional if you need help with past-due tax debts. You may be able to set up a payment plan to make it easier to clear your debt.

Important 2024 Tax Deadlines To Know

Other than the deadline to file taxes for individuals, there are several other important tax deadlines you should know. Here are the most important 2024 tax deadlines.

January 16Tax payments for Q4 due for self-employed workers
January 29Tax season begins
January 31Due date for employers to send W-2 and some 1099 forms are due, from contract-based employers and financial institutions.
February 15Deadline for some 1099 forms and W-4 forms for tax-exempt status
March 15Taxes are due for some business types (partnerships, multi-member LLCs, and S-Corporations)
April 15Tax day, deadline for federal income tax filing; deadline to request extension; HSA contribution deadline; deadline to open (and fund) IRA, Roth IRA, and SEP IRA; Q1 tax payments due for self-employed workers
June 17Q2 tax payments due for self-employed workers
September 16Q3 tax payments due for self-employed workers
October 1Deadline for employers to open and fund a SIMPLE IRA, provided the employer did not previously maintain a SIMPLE IRA plan for the employee.
October 15Deadline to file extended 2023 tax returns; deadline for employers to fund SIMPLE IRAs if extended returns, if SIMPLE IRA was open and funded in previous year.
December 31RMD withdrawal deadline for the current year, 401(k) contribution deadline for the current year, deadline to open Solo 401(k) 

What Happens if You Miss Your Tax Deadlines

Not filing your income tax return by the deadline can, in certain circumstances, have some very serious consequences, but it largely depends on whether you owe taxes or receive a refund.

If you’re receiving a refund, the only consequence of missing the tax deadline is that you’ll receive your refund late. However, if you owe any taxes, interest and penalties can add up quickly, especially if you have a large amount of taxable income that year.

If you owe taxes and file late, the IRS can apply a late filing penalty, which is 5% of unpaid taxes each month, up to 25% of the outstanding bill. And, if you file but you don’t pay your taxes or pay them late, you’ll owe a late payment penalty, which is 0.5% of the unpaid taxes each month, up to 25% of the outstanding tax bill. 

It should be noted these penalties are not cumulative, meaning they do not double up on each other.  Instead, you will only be charged the bigger penalty of the two that apply to your situation at any given time. For instance, if your late payment penalty is larger than your failure to file penalty, you will only be charged the late payment penalty amount–the IRS will not add one on top of the other.  

You’ll also owe interest on any outstanding balance. Interest accrues from the due date of the tax return until you pay the amount owed in full.  

How To File Your Taxes Before the Deadline

Keeping track of the deadlines for filing taxes and filing them on your own can feel daunting. Fortunately, there are several options out there.

Use Online Tax Platforms

An easy way to e-file your taxes is by using online tax software. You can log in and answer questions about your income, finances, and tax situation. You can then fill out the necessary forms online and submit them to the IRS right then and there and receive confirmation they’ve been received and accepted within just a few hours.

The IRS Free File Program is an option worth considering if you want to file taxes for free. You may qualify if your income was less than $79,000 for the 2023 tax year.

If not, there are several other tax software providers, such as H&R Block and TurboTax. Compare their pricing packages and support options before you decide which one works for you.

Seek Professional Assistance

If you want to save time or have a complicated tax situation, it may be worth it to hire someone for tax preparation. You may also want to consider working with a local CPA if you have a side gig or a small business.

“For the ultimate specialist when it comes to dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) and state departments of revenue, you cannot do better than a tax professional who is certified as an Enrolled Agent (EA) with the IRS,” says Brad Reichert, founder and managing director of Reichert Asset Management LLC.

“An Enrolled Agent is a highly qualified tax advisor and a federally authorized tax practitioner who has been certified by the IRS and empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent you, the taxpayer,” he explains. “Enrolled Agents are different from CPAs because they can represent taxpayers in front of the IRS in tax court regarding tax issues that include audits, collections, and appeals,” Reichert adds.

A tax professional can cost you money, but they’ll also be able to ensure accurate and timely tax filing. Additionally, professionals have in-depth knowledge and can help you get the maximum tax refund through applicable deductions.

Don’t Miss Your Tax Deadlines

The 2024 tax season officially started on January 29th, 2024, so the IRS is now accepting tax returns for the 2023 tax year. Employers must send you 1099 and W-2 tax forms by the end of January so you can file your individual tax returns on time.

It’s always best to get an early start and file your taxes well before the tax filing deadline to ensure you don’t have to pay any penalties or interest for late filing or late payment. If you think you need more time to file taxes, request an extension. Keep in mind that you still have to pay any taxes you owe by April 15, 2024, even if you request an extension.