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Income Tax Deadline Fast Facts

Here’s some background information about the annual income tax filing deadline in the United States. May 17, 2021, is the deadline to file 2020 income tax returns.

Filing Statistics

The IRS’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.

Fiscal Year 2019
The IRS amassed over $3.5 trillion in gross tax collections and issued almost 122 million refunds, totaling over $452 billion.

Individual Income Tax Returns Filed
Total Number of Returns: 154,094,555
Gross Amount Collected: $1,942,182,201,000

Total Individual Income Tax Refunds
Number: 121,892,252
Amount: $452,103,909,000

Where Do The Taxes Go?

(Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, FY 2019)
Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, marketplace subsidies 25%
Social Security 23%
National Defense 16%
Safety net programs 8%
Benefits for veterans & federal retirees 8%
Interest on debt 8%
Education 2%
Transportation infrastructure 2%
Science and medical research 2%
Non-security international 1%
All other 4%


1862 – During the Civil War, the IRS is born when President Abraham Lincoln and Congress create the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and enact an income tax to pay war expenses. The first income tax levies 3% on incomes between $600 and $10,000 and 5% on anything over $10,000. This income tax lasts until 1872.

1895 – The Supreme Court rules in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co. that taxing incomes uniformly throughout the United States is unconstitutional.

1913 – The 16th Amendment is ratified by the states, giving Congress the authority to enact an income tax. Congress also introduces the first 1040 form and levies a 1% tax on personal incomes over $3,000 with 6% surtax on incomes of more than $500,000.

1918 – During World War I, to help finance the war, the highest rate of taxation on income is 77%. After the war, by 1929, the rate drops to 24%.

1954 – The tax filing deadline is moved from March 15 to April 15, to give taxpayers more time to prepare their returns.

January 3, 1996 – Congress enacts the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to ensure relief from overzealous collection efforts on the part of IRS personnel.

March 20, 2020 – Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin tweets that tax day is moving from April 15 to July 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

March 17, 2021 – The IRS announces the filing deadline has been moved from April 15 to May 17.

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