In a year when normal tax-filing deadlines were postponed because of the corona­virus pandemic, there is one more important date to note: Oct. 15.

That’s the deadline for filing your 2019 income tax return if you got an automatic filing extension this year. The regular April filing deadline was extended to July 15 because of the corona­virus.

Separately, unless the federal government acts to extend it, Oct. 15 is also the deadline for low-income people who typically don’t file a tax return to claim their $1,200 stimulus payment.

More than 160 million Americans have already received their payments, according to the IRS. But about 9 million people who may qualify for the payments had yet to claim them as of mid-September, the IRS said. People with no or low income — below $12,200 for an individual and $24,400 for couples — typically aren’t required to file a tax return, so they should register with the IRS to get the payment. (People who receive Social Security or other government benefits should have already received payments automatically, although some had to take additional steps to get the extra $500 payments for their children.)

In September, the IRS mailed letters to the 9 million as part of an outreach campaign. The letter urged them to register on the agency’s website by Oct. 15 by using the “Non-Filers” tool to receive a payment by the end of the year. Individuals can get up to $1,200 and couples up to $2,400, and people with children younger than 17 can get an extra $500 per child.

The IRS has been working through a large backlog of paper tax returns and correspondence that accumulated during the corona­virus shutdown, so filing returns and making payments electronically is advisable, said Cari Weston of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

And note: If you owed taxes on your 2019 return, they were due by July 15. An extension to file until Oct. 15 didn’t grant you more time to pay any tax owed, said Rhonda Collins, director of tax content and government relations with the National Association of Tax Professionals.

If you still can’t pay your full bill, pay as much as you can when you file your return, said Trish Evenstad, a director of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. This reduces penalties and interest owed. You can request a payment plan for the balance.

If you are paying electronically it’s best not to wait until the last minute in order to avoid any technical glitches. If you prefer to pay by paper check, it’s wise to make a copy of the check, and be sure to check the IRS website for the correct mailing address.


Ann Carrns writes for the New York Times.