After two years of extended deadlines, tax filing in April is back — and fast approaching.

The pandemic led to delays in filing deadlines that stretched into late spring or even summer. But this year, the filing date for most taxpayers is April 18, a little more than a week away.

Even so, there may still be a few things you can do to reduce your tax bill. Here are some steps to consider.

There is still time to contribute to a traditional individual retirement account for the 2021 tax year and take a deduction — if you qualify. IRA contributions for 2021 can be made until the filing deadline — up to $6,000 for an individual and $7,000 for people who were 50 or older at the end of 2021. Your deduction may be limited, however, depending on your income and whether you have a workplace retirement plan.

People who are self-employed can put more of their earnings away by contributing to a Simplified Employee Pension plan, or SEP IRA. The contribution limit for a SEP IRA for 2021 is 25% of your compensation or $58,000 — whichever is less. (You may also have more time to contribute to a SEP IRA. If you get an extension to Oct. 15 to file your tax return, you have until then to make a contribution.)

The deadline for contributing to a Roth IRA for 2021 is also April 18 — but since you do not get a tax deduction for depositing money into a Roth, it will not lower your tax bill.


You may also be able to reduce your taxable income by contributing to a health savings account, or HSA, by the filing deadline. To be eligible, you must be covered by a health plan that meets specific criteria, like a high deductible (at least $1,400 for an individual for 2021), said John Larson, vice president of benefit solutions at Conduent, a business services company.

If you qualify, the contribution limit for 2021 is $3,600 for an individual and $7,200 for families. People 55 and older can contribute an extra $1,000.

If you had eligible health coverage for just part of 2021, the maximum contribution you can make may be less, said Rita Assaf, vice president of retirement at Fidelity Investments. For example, someone enrolled in a qualifying health plan for six months could contribute up to $1,800 — half the maximum.

But there is an option that lets you contribute more to your HSA, known as the “last month” rule, Assaf said. Here is how it works: If you are eligible to contribute to an HSA on the first day of the last month of the tax year — let’s say Dec. 1, 2021 — you are considered eligible for the entire year and may contribute up to the maximum. But there is a catch: You must keep your high-deductible health coverage for the next 12 months. If you lose qualifying health coverage before the end of 2022, you will owe taxes and possibly a penalty on the extra contribution, the IRS says.

Money is contributed to an HSA tax-free. It is also tax-free when it is withdrawn to pay for eligible medical expenses and can be invested and grow free of federal taxes. The accounts go with you if you change employers.


And for those of you who have not started to calculate your taxes and now realize you cannot make the tax deadline, you can file for an automatic extension. This gives you until Oct. 15 to get your return prepared and submitted.

“You’ll want to extend if you do not have the information to prepare a complete and accurate return,” said Henry Grzes, lead manager for tax practice and ethics at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

But an extension to file does not give you more time to pay. So you will need to make your best estimate of what you may owe and pay the government by April 18.

Some people may worry that they cannot pay, so they do not submit a return. But that creates more problems, including penalties for failing to file, Grzes said. You should file and pay what you can, he said, and then contact the IRS to discuss an installment plan to pay any balance after your return is processed. To estimate what you owe, he said, check last year’s return or, if you are using do-it-yourself tax software, enter what information you have available to get a rough amount.

Q: How can I find a reputable tax preparer?

A: The Justice Department warned taxpayers recently to use caution when choosing a tax professional, noting that it has taken action against numerous dishonest preparers over the past year. Red flags include preparers who ask you to sign a blank return or refuse to sign a return they have prepared (known as a “ghost” return), will not let you review your return before filing it or are depositing your refund in a way that is not clear to you. The IRS offers tips for choosing a preparer on its website at and offers a directory of credentialed preparers that can be searched by ZIP code.

Q: Where can I get free help with tax questions?

A: The IRS is offering limited walk-in help at its Taxpayer Assistance Centers in numerous cities across the country Saturday. The office will not prepare returns, but taxpayers can get questions answered and receive guidance. Details are at In Seattle, walk-in help is slated for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 9, according to the IRS site.


Free options for tax preparation include IRS Free File and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. You can search on for locations.

Q: When is the deadline for the first estimated tax payment of 2022?

A: If you are self-employed or are otherwise required to pay quarterly estimated taxes, the first payment deadline is April 18. You can use Form 1040-ES to figure how much to pay.