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By Mallika Mitra
Updated: March 17, 2021 5:56 PM ET
Calculator with the word extension on top of multiple 1040 tax forms
Money; Shutterstock

If you’re behind on preparing your taxes, you can breathe a sigh of relief: The IRS has pushed Tax Day to May 17.

This is the second year in a row the agency has postponed the tax deadline, which is usually April 15. In 2020, the IRS delayed the deadline until July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the agency had already pushed back the deadline for victims of severe winter storms after a storm caused power outages for days in Texas.

Legislators and industry leaders have recently been calling on the IRS to make this move. In a statement released last week, Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways and Committee, and Rep. Bill Pascrell issued a statement demanding a postponement.

“Taxpayers need more time to file accurate returns and get their questions answered by the IRS,” the Democrats said.

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The American Institute of CPAs sent a letter to the IRS earlier this month, saying that "it is simply not possible for many taxpayers and their tax advisers to meet their filing and payment obligations that are due on April 15.”

The $1.9 trillion relief package signed into law last week added a tax break that could cause some headache for tax preparers: taxpayers who received unemployment benefits in 2020 do not have to pay federal income taxes on the first $10,200 of benefits, as long their 2020 adjusted gross income was less than $150,000.

Meanwhile, the IRS is dealing with a backlog of 24 million unprocessed tax returns, the Washington Post reported. The agency is also responsible for sending out third stimulus checks that were included in the recent relief package.

Keep in mind that the delay is for the federal income tax deadline; state income tax deadlines may be different. If you have yet to file your taxes, seek out some help. You can file for free online, with tools like the IRS' Free File if your income is $72,000 or less, or Free File Fillable Forms if your income is higher. There's also the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program — for those with incomes of $57,000 or less, those with disabilities or those who speak other languages — and the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide which helps low- and moderate-income Americans and people over 50. For more tips, check out Money's story on how to file your taxes for free online in 2021. If you need even more time, you can file for a deadline extension, which will give you until October 15 to file your taxes (keep in mind that this extension applies only to filing the return — if you owe the IRS money, you'll need to pay it by the spring deadline).

This story has been updated to reflect confirmation from the IRS that the federal income tax deadline has been pushed back.

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