WASHINGTON: The U.S. extended the April 15 tax-filing deadline to July 15, an unprecedented delay that will give people more time to prepare and pay their taxes as workers lose jobs and businesses close during the coronavirus pandemic.
“All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Twitter.
At @realDonaldTrump’s direction, we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.
— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) March 20, 2020
The change delays all individual and business federal income tax filings and payments that are due on April 15, according to an Internal Revenue Service notice. That includes 2019 tax returns as well as estimated taxes for the first quarter of 2020. Taxpayers don’t need to file forms seeking extensions, and there is no cap on the amount of taxes that can be deferred.
The change doesn’t affect payroll taxes, estate taxes or excise taxes, and it doesn’t affect estimated taxes due on June 15.
Earlier this week, the IRS said that most taxpayers could defer payments until July but would still have to file their tax returns or seek extensions by April 15. That announcement drew quick criticism from lawmakers and tax preparers, who warned that they couldn’t get those filings done or would have to risk their safety and health to do it.
And tax filers who typically get help at sites staffed by IRS volunteers or use IRS tax help for the elderly may have trouble getting the information they need as the government limits face-to-face interactions during the pandemic.
So Mr. Mnuchin and the IRS offered the additional extensions on Friday.
Still, he urged Americans who are expecting tax refunds to file when they can, so that they can get their money. Through March 13, the IRS had received 76 million returns, more than half the number it typically gets during the spring filing season.
“These are difficult times for everyone, and the least we can do is hit pause on tax season so Americans can focus on what’s more important,” Sens. John Thune (R., S.D.), Steve Daines (R., Mont.) and Angus King (I., Maine) said in a joint statement.
The IRS notice doesn’t say whether someone seeking the customary six-month extension would have to file by October or by January 2021.
The IRS itself is struggling with the impact of the pandemic. Commissioner Charles Rettig has reduced staffing in certain “mission-critical” locations by 50% to let employees be farther away from each other, according to a memo sent to employees. And some offices in high-impact areas have been closed, he wrote.
Those changes may affect the government’s ability to respond to taxpayers’ questions.
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