2021 Date Shifts Offer Up a New Take on Tax Season

Mar 4, 2021
Written by CJ

The traditional peaks of tax season have gone out the window in 2021.

While the IRS usually announces the e-file date at the end of January—or at least they have for the past six years—the 2021 start date was bumped to February 12th to give the IRS more time for additional programming and testing.

Providers and marketers who focus on tax season may feel like they’re steering the ship without a map this year. The US tax season has followed a somewhat familiar pattern in recent years with peaks one and two dictating promotional timing. While a two-week delay may not seem like much, a late start means that tried and true marketing strategies tied to seasonality may no longer work. While tax providers are expecting higher volume in March and April, the truth is that predicting when consumers will file in a pandemic is a tricky feat.


A Late Season Start Reveals a Slow Start

In addition to the later start, if you promote tax, you may have noticed a slower start with less people filing right away. Why are people are waiting to file their taxes this year? Here are some contributing factors:

  • Stimulus Limbo - Some may have been waiting for the new stimulus package to be finalized.
  • Another Extended Year? The 2020 tax season was extended to July 15th. Although the IRS has said that they won’t be extending the deadline in 2021, many may be assuming otherwise or holding onto false hope for an extension. UPDATE! As of March 17th, the 2021 tax deadline has been extended to May 17, 2021 for individual filers. Note that state filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details.
  • New Tax Situations - With so many people filing for unemployment for the first time in 2020 a lot of filers may be confused, waiting for additional paperwork, or simply putting it off because it seems harder.
  • First-Time Investors - 2020 was a big year for individual investors and a lot of them were first-timers, adding another layer of complexity to their taxes.

The bottom line? Be patient. The dates have shifted, and filers may be waiting, but people have to file their taxes so trust that things will pick up.


2021 Tax Season Tips

Even though the peaks have changed this year, the reality of living in a pandemic has not. 2021 is likely to take some cues from 2020 timing and trends. Here are some tips for marketers looking to promote tax season this year.

Timing Tweaks

  • Traditionally, weekends see strong tax performance, but in 2020 Fridays and Saturdays were softer than usual. Instead, Sunday and Monday got a bump. This year, Saturdays and Sundays are leading as peak days.
  • Easter falls within the tax deadline this year (April 5), with many focusing on family time and holiday festivities. Expect things to slow down during this time.
  • Pricing tends to increase as you get closer to final filing date, so stay on top of dates with providers and push users to file by a certain date to claim the best price.

Products that Perform

  • With so many people navigating new tax situations this year, many will be open to investing in products that offer more support.
  • Major tax providers offer products that give users access to virtual help, and since the pandemic, smaller players have moved into this space as well. Push tax products that offer virtual consultations with CPA or EA help.
  • Some online providers have taken virtual help even further by offering full-service options, handling taxes from start to finish.

Notes on Strategy

  • Create content around unique tax situations or answer common questions to the complexities of the past year—people will be searching for help.
  • It’s a best practice to direct readers to a service provider or the IRS website for more information as they’re diligent about keeping their content up to date with any changes. You may also be able to deep link to an advertisers’ tax content and still earn commission. Win-win!
  • With the traditional peaks and timing out the window, now is the time to try innovative strategies and out-of-the-box ideas for tax promotion.


You don’t need to be a finance publisher to promote tax—everyone needs to file their taxes, so get in on this category while the season is in full swing! Just starting out with tax? Check out our article for beginners.

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