5 Financial Dates and Deadlines in January 2021

Man using a digital calendar on his computer
NicoElNino / Shutterstock.com

Life moves quickly. It’s easy to get distracted. But that can be costly.

Miss an important financial date or deadline, and you could be on the hook for a penalty or lose out on a limited-time opportunity to save money.

Enter our money calendar series.

In this edition, we’ve rounded up the noteworthy money dates that are coming up in January 2021. Take a look and mark your calendar with any dates that apply to you.

Jan. 1 — Many health insurance plans take effect

If you recently enrolled in a new 2021 health insurance plan, or re-enrolled in the plan you had for 2020, your 2021 health insurance plan likely starts Jan. 1.

For example, this is the case for Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans purchased during the latest fall ACA open enrollment period, as well as Medicare plans that seniors purchased anew or re-enrolled in during the latest fall Medicare open enrollment period.

If your health insurance plan takes effect on Jan. 1, make sure to put your new insurance card in your wallet.

Jan. 1 — Medicare Advantage open enrollment period starts

As if Medicare isn’t complicated enough, this federal health insurance program for folks age 65 and older and folks with certain disabilities or conditions has not one but two annual open enrollment periods.

The annual Medicare open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, while the annual Medicare Advantage open enrollment period runs from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Medicare Advantage plans, one of the two main types of Medicare, are offered by private insurance companies that are approved by Medicare. (The other type, Original Medicare, is the traditional government-managed health care coverage.)

During the current enrollment period, folks with Medicare Advantage plans (with or without prescription drug coverage) have the option to do one of the following:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan (with or without drug coverage).
  • Switch from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare (with or without also enrolling in a drug plan).

For more Medicare news, check out our latest coverage.

Jan. 15 — Deadline for estimated tax payments

Jan. 15 is the deadline for the fourth quarterly installment of estimated taxes for 2020. It applies to the self-employed, who use IRS Form 1040-ES to pay this tax.

There is one exception of sorts, though: Self-employed people who file their 2020 federal tax return by Feb. 1 and pay their entire balance due with their return do not have to pay their fourth installment by Jan. 15.

Jan. 24 — New U.S. Postal Service rates take effect

A new year brings a new round of postal price hikes.

Price increases that the U.S. Postal Service requested in October for certain letters and postcards and requested in November for certain Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express services will take effect Jan. 24.

Not all types of mailing services are affected by this round of price increases — including first-class stamps (still 55 cents).

Last week of January (presumably) — Tax season starts

The IRS has yet to announce the official start date for the next federal income tax filing season, the one for 2020 returns, but it’s a safe bet that it will be in the last week of January: That has been the case for at least the past few years.

Once the start date arrives, you, your tax professional or your tax software will be able to submit your 2020 tax return to the IRS. And the sooner you file your return, the sooner you generally will be able to receive any tax refund you are owed, as we explained last January in “7 Things You Should Know About Your 2020 Tax Refund.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.