Delayed by Virus, Tax Day Is Almost Here

“They have a backlog you wouldn’t believe,” Ms. Hockenberry said.

Working through the paper returns is a “high priority” for the I.R.S., its commissioner, Charles P. Rettig, recently told the Senate Finance Committee. The agency is reducing the backlog by about one million a week.

If you’ve already filed a paper return, the I.R.S. refund website says, it will be processed in the order it was received. Its advice? Sit tight. “Do not file a second tax return or contact the I.R.S. about the status of your return,” the agency said.

A bit of good news: Because the postponed filing date is “disaster related,” the I.R.S. must pay interest on your refund, calculated from April 15 roughly until it is paid out — as long as you file your 2019 return by July 15, an agency spokesman said. Depending on the timing of the refund, the interest is 3 to 5 percent, compounded daily. Interest payments may come in a separate installment.

Also, you have until Wednesday to take steps that may help reduce your taxable income, said Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and tax expert with TurboTax. You can make contributions to an individual retirement account, which may be tax deductible depending on your income, or to a health savings account, if your health plan qualifies.

Here are questions and answers about tax day in July 2020:

What if I’m still not ready to file?

If, despite the extended deadline, you still aren’t prepared to file your federal return, you can get an automatic extension to file until Oct. 15 by submitting I.R.S. Form 4868. You can do it at no charge, using the I.R.S. Free File website.

But be warned: An extension to file is not an extension to pay, Ms. Hockenberry emphasized. If you owe money, you still need to calculate what you expect to owe and pay it by Wednesday, or face penalties and interest on the unpaid amount.

If you can’t pay what you owe, the I.R.S. may give you a little break: You can pay what you can and request an installment plan for the rest, although you’ll still have to pay penalties — at half the usual rate — and interest.

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