Americans will have an additional three months to file their taxes, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announcing Friday that Tax Day has been shifted to July 15 from the usual April 15. The deadline delay comes as millions of people are self-isolating and millions more cope with "shelter-in-place" orders due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It's the second tax delay that the federal government has announced because of the outbreak, with the Treasury Department earlier giving taxpayers an additional three months to pay the IRS in case they owed taxes. In a tweet, Mnuchin said the decision was ordered by President Donald Trump.
"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," Mnuchin wrote.
The decision comes amid growing concern from lawmakers and consumers about meeting the April 15 tax deadline. On March 10, members of the House Ways and Means Committee asked the IRS in a letter to consider extending the filing deadline because "we are concerned about the ability of the IRS to provide taxpayer assistance and process returns, as well as the ability of taxpayers, free tax-preparation sites and tax professionals to meet the filing deadline."
Postponing the tax filing deadline "is a godsend," said Bill Smith, managing director at the national tax office at financial services firm CBIZ. "We are faced with so many issues we haven't had to deal with before."
Because Smith's company told employees to work at home, no one remains at the office to receive tax forms that had been mailed in, nor scan them, he added. His company also outsources some work to India, but workers there are also impacted by the pandemic, which is affecting work.
Consumers may also struggle to get help and answers on their tax questions, with the IRS on Friday announcing it is closing all of the agency's Taxpayer Assistance Centers "until further notice to ensure the continued safety and health of our employees and taxpayers."
Mnuchin tweeted that taxpayers who expect refunds should "file now to get your money." Smith said he would also advise taxpayers to complete their taxes as quickly as possible. If you owe money, he added, it's better to know now and plan for those payments rather than wait until July 15.
Still, some expert said more needs to be done. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation noted that taxpayers who pay quarterly estimated taxes, such as gig workers and freelancers, are still on the hook for paying those taxes on June 15.
"Those should be delayed, too," Nicole Kaeding, an economist with the advocacy group, said in a statement. "The Senate Republican bill goes even further, delaying all estimated payments until October 15 and employer-side payroll until January. Congress should continue to push estimated tax payments until later in 2020."
It's not the first time the tax filing deadline has been extended. It last occurred two years ago when the IRS's payments website suffered multiple outages hours before the deadline. The legislators noted in their letter Tuesday that the IRS already has authority to extend filing deadlines by up to six months, as well as to waive penalties.