All about filing your taxes in the US: The When, the Where and the How

In the US, filing your taxes on time is considered quite important. If you are not filing your taxes on time, then you might have to pay heavy penalties. For avoiding paying heavy penalties, you must know in detail some essential aspects related to taxes.

The major aspects which are related to taxes in the US are

  1. When to file the tax returns?
  2. Where to file the tax returns?
  3. How to file the tax returns?

Let us know about each aspect in details.

a. When to file the tax returns?

In case you are a tax filer as per the calendar year, then the end of a particular tax year for you is on 31st December. In this case, you have to finish your process of tax filing by 15th December of each year. Suppose, you are using a fiscal year i.e. tax year which is ending on the last day of any month but not December then you will have to file your tax returns by the 15th day of the fourth month after your fiscal year has been closed.  In case of the tax return for the year 2019, the tax payment due date is 15th April 2020. 

If you are filing your tax returns by the help of mail, then you will have to ensure that the mailing address to which you are sending the document is correct and the documents are deposited on time. In case of filing a tax return by electronic means, you should ensure that the date and time in your time zone must be accurate as it determines whether your tax filing has been done on time or not.

In case, you are not able to file your tax returns by the due date then you will have to request an extension in the time needed to file the taxes. You can use Form 4868 to obtain an extension of 6 months automatically. For this, you will have to pay interest and also there might be a penalty charged on you for non-payment of tax by the due date.

b.Where to file the returns?

If you are filing your tax return electronically, then you should not be worried about the area where it will be sent. In case, you are filing your tax return by physical means or by paper then you will have to send it to the correct address which is mentioned in the form that you are filling. 

If you have a balance to be paid at the time of filing your tax return, then you can make the payment by IRS Direct Pay. In case you are filing your return by paper, then you will fill Form 1040-V and send your cheque or money order along with the form.

  • The cheque or money order which you are going to send must be prepared as payable to “United States Treasury”.
  • You should not staple your tax return, Form 1040-V and payment together. They should be left loose and placed in an envelope.
  • On the front side of your payment, you should include your name, address, TIN, tax year and the category of form which you are including.
  • It is advisable not to send cash along with your return.

c.How to file the tax returns?

You can file your tax returns either by electronic means or you can mail your tax returns in paper form. Mostly, it is advisable to file your tax returns by electronic means as it is convenient and even a faster process.  When you are mailing your tax return, it will take around six weeks to eight weeks for processing. In case, you are preparing your tax returns by using professional software then there might be the need to pay additional fees to file the return.

If filing tax returns by paper form, you should use the Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. Along with these forms, you also need to attach some other documents like a copy of Form W-2, Form W-2c which is a corrected form Form-W2, Form-W2G and Form 1099-R if a federal income tax was withheld, etc. 

For electronic filing, you will have to use the e-file method. For this, you can use self-select PIN which will act as your digital signature when you are using tax preparation software. The self-select PIN will allow you to make your electronic signature while filing your Income Tax Return by selecting a five-digit PIN. 


So, you must know in detail about these important aspects associated with filing your tax returns in the US. This basic information makes it easier for you to file your tax returns accurately on time thus avoiding heavy penalties.