Taxes are due today for Americans who received a filing extension

Taxpayers who previously filed for an extension must submit their 2019 federal tax return by Oct. 15

For Americans who requested a tax deadline extension earlier this year, Thursday marks the final day to file 2019 income returns without a financial penalty.

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Taxpayers who previously filed for an extension must submit their 2019 federal tax return by Oct. 15.

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Typically, filing for an extension gives taxpayers six extra months beyond the April 15 deadline. This year the IRS pushed the original deadline back to July 15 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but the Oct. 15 deadline remained the same.

Seeking an extension can give filers more time to thoroughly review their return and take advantage of all of the tax benefits, like various deductions and credits, that are available to them to help them reduce their liability.

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And by pushing back the filing date, taxpayers can avoid a failure-to-file penalty -- an extra 5% per month on the unpaid amount of money owed, which can add up to 25% of the tax due. If you file for an extension, you have until Oct. 15 before the penalty starts accruing.

If you're expecting to receive a refund this year and you ask for an extension, you won't get that money until you've filed your return. The sooner you file, the sooner you get your refund. The IRS previously urged Americans who expect to receive money to file a refund as soon as possible.

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Filing your taxes electronically is the fastest way to get a refund, according to the IRS, especially as the agency works its way through a backlog of paper returns that built up during its closure earlier this year in response to the pandemic.

The agency issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. In 2018, about 90 percent of taxpayers filed their returns online.

If you did not pay your full tax bill on July 15, when the funds were due, and are still unable to do so, tax experts advise that you request a payment plan for the remaining balance. (The IRS offers some payment plans to individuals who are unable to pay the full amount of taxes they owe.)

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Separately, the IRS extended the deadline to register for the one-time direct payment – up to $1,200 for one person, and $3,900 for a family of five – to Nov. 21. The cutoff to provide information to the government agency was originally Oct. 15.

“We took this step to provide more time for those who have not yet received a payment to register to get their money, including those in low-income and underserved communities,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a news release.

The extended deadline is only for individuals who don't typically file a tax return, which includes many low-income Americans who have not yet received the economic impact payment.