The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced Wednesday that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be extended to May 17 from April 15.

The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a prepared statement that the agency wants to continue to help taxpayers get through the unusual circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Rettig cautioned taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax, not to put off filing.

“Even with the new deadline, we urge taxpayers to consider filing as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds," he said. "Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds, and it can help some taxpayers more quickly receive any remaining stimulus payments they may be entitled to."

Most tax refunds associated with e-filed returns are issued within 21 days.

Likewise, taxpayers who owe federal income tax payments can postpone filing until May 17 without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.

After that, penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances.

Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request a filing extension until Oct. 15 by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov.

However, filing Form 4868 does not grant an extension of time to pay taxes due. Taxpayers should pay their federal income tax due by May 17 to avoid interest and penalties.

The May 17 deadline also does not apply to estimated tax payments due on April 15. Taxes must be paid as taxpayers earn or receive income during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments.

In general, estimated tax payments are made quarterly to the IRS by people whose income isn't subject to income tax withholding, including self-employment income, interest, dividends, alimony or rental income.

Most taxpayers automatically have their taxes withheld from their paychecks and submitted to the IRS by their employer.

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