Home > Articles > Business & Management > Finance & Investing

The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes: Meeting Filing Deadlines

The Internal Revenue Service is all about numbers, and that includes dates on calendars. If you don't file your return on time and if you owe tax, you'll face penalties and interest.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Everyone knows about April 15, the day tax returns are due. But as countless procrastinators can attest, it’s when your return must be en route to the IRS, not when the agency actually has to have your 1040 in hand.

The IRS considers a paper return filed on time if it is mailed in a properly addressed envelope, has enough postage, and is postmarked by the due date. The official term, per Section 7502 of the Internal Revenue Code, is “timely filed.” The tax code also notes that the date on a U.S. Postal Service receipt for certified or registered mail also qualifies.

As long as the tax mailing has the appropriate USPS cancellations showing it was mailed on or before the due date, the return is considered on time no matter when the IRS actually receives it.

Private delivery accepted—What if you’re more comfortable using a private delivery service? That’s okay with the IRS and has been since 1997.

In these cases, the IRS considers a timely-filed postmark to be the date a private delivery service records in its database that it accepted the tax document or marks that date on the mailing label.

The IRS has designated three companies as authorized private delivery services: DHL Express, Federal Express, and United Parcel Service. If you choose to use one of them, check with its local office as to the company’s requirements and pick-up deadlines, as well as the specific private delivery services the IRS accepts.

Filing on time electronically—Electronic filing is popular in part because it enables you to send your 1040 from a personal computer with a simple push of the Enter button.

E-filing also provides an almost immediate acknowledgment that the return is on its way to Uncle Sam. This notification from tax software companies and other electronic return originators is your official electronic postmark.

Technically, an e-filed return is not considered filed until the IRS acknowledges that it has been received and accepted for processing. However, if the electronic transmission is successful and completed on or shortly before the due date, the IRS considers it as timely filed.

  • Technically, an e-filed return is not considered filed until the IRS acknowledges that it has been received and accepted for processing.

But don’t wait until 11:59 p.m. on April 15 to e-file. Although such a last-minute electronic timestamp is acceptable to the IRS, you run the risk that your online connection might be bogged down by other late e-filers. Worse, your PC could crash, not only causing you to miss the filing deadline, but also destroying your entire return.

Pushing the deadline—Sometimes April 15 comes and goes without any tax consequence. That’s the case when it falls on a weekend or federal holiday. In these instances, the next business day becomes the official tax-filing deadline.

The IRS also allows you, if you file the proper paperwork, six more months to complete your Form 1040. Submit Form 4868 by the regular April due date, and your filing deadline becomes October 15, or if that date falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the next business day.

Although an extension can be a welcome tax respite, keep in mind that it only gives you more time to file your return. It is not an extension of time to pay any tax you owe. Failure to pay will cause penalty and interest assessments to start accumulating.

There are three ways to file Form 4868:

  1. Mail in the paper form, which can be downloaded from www.IRS.gov.
  2. File it electronically. The form is included in most tax software packages, or eligible taxpayers can find it at the IRS’s Free File site. Go to www.IRS.gov and type “Free File” in the search box at the top of the page.
  3. Pay part or all of your tax bill by credit card via an authorized, private-sector service provider.

The IRS has authorized two companies to process credit cards payments:

Both companies charge a convenience fee of 2.5 percent of the payment amount. And if you do not pay your full tax due, penalties and interest will accrue on the unpaid balance.

More filing deadlines for some—April 15, or the following business day if the 15th falls on a weekend or federal holiday, is a double deadline for some taxpayers. The mid-April date also is the due date for the year’s first estimated tax payment.

U.S. taxes are collected on a pay-as-you-earn system, with the bulk of them paid by payroll withholding from employee wages. But when you are self-employed or have income, such as investment earnings, from which no taxes are withheld, you must make the payments yourself as estimated payments. If you do not pay enough throughout the year, either via withholding, estimated payments, or a combination of both, you could face an underpayment penalty.

To avoid this, Form 1040-ES, which includes instructions and payment vouchers, helps you calculate your untaxed income and figure your bill. The IRS prefers you take that total estimated amount, divide it by four, and send in equal payments on April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15 of the following year. Again, holidays or weekends will push these deadlines to the next business day.

You can make each payment by sending the appropriate paper 1040-ES voucher, downloadable from www.IRS.gov; paying by credit card; having the funds electronically withdrawn from your bank account; or paying via the IRS’s Electronic Federal Payment System, or EFTPS, at www.EFTPS.gov.

Figure your estimated payments carefully, since underpayment penalties also are assessed on each payment period if too little is remitted. If your income that is not subject to withholding is unequal throughout the year, you can avoid such penalties by using the annualized method. Using Form 2210, figure each 1040-ES payment period separately and pay the appropriate tax for each. This is particularly useful if your job is one where you earn most of your income in one period, such as a lawn service with key earnings during the summer, because you then will have the cash to pay the taxes.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020