US Treasury considers extending April 15 tax deadline over virus disruption

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The U.S. Treasury Department building in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 22, 2013. The department is considering extending the tax-filing deadline beyond April 15 because of disruption from the coronavirus.

The U.S. Treasury Department building in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 22, 2013. The department is considering extending the tax-filing deadline beyond April 15 because of disruption from the coronavirus. (Chuck Myers/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Treasury Department is considering extending the 2019 tax-filing deadline beyond April 15 to provide relief from economic disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Treasury officials have been discussing the idea of extending the Internal Revenue Service’s payment deadline as the Trump administration considers measures to relieve economic pressure on citizens, businesses and government agencies dealing with the impact of the virus, according to the people, who spoke on the condition to anonymity because the deliberations aren’t public.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday said his department is exploring what options it has to independently address the economic fallout from the virus. Mnuchin also held discussions with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about an economic stimulus package.

A Treasury spokeswoman said no decision has been made. Spokespeople for the IRS and White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The virus outbreak in the U.S. has prompted localized school closings, interrupted supply chains and forced businesses and government agencies to consider having employees work from home.

It’s unclear if the Treasury Department has authority to delay the tax filing deadline for all taxpayers without consulting Congress. The April 15 deadline is in the tax code, though includes exceptions for when the 15th falls on a local holiday or weekend.

The IRS also routinely extends the deadline for victims of natural disasters. For example, the agency has granted victims of the recent tornadoes in Tennessee until July 15 to file. In 2018, the IRS delayed the due date by a day when their computer system crashed on the filing deadline and taxpayers were unable to submit their returns.

“Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes,” the agency says on its website. “Special tax law provisions may help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster, especially when the federal government declares their location to be a major disaster area.”

Taxpayers can already automatically request a six-month extension to file their returns, however that doesn’t postpone the deadline to pay any liability they may owe. That bill would continue to accrue interest and penalties until it is paid.

An extension of the April 15 filing deadline would give taxpayers more time to pay their tax bills without facing additional costs, according to one of the people familiar.

Some taxpayers are also facing a tax deadline just days away. Businesses organized at partnerships must file their returns by March 15.

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