Still looking for your W-2s? This is your year. The Internal Revenue Service has given most taxpayers three extra days to file their federal income tax returns.
Instead of April 15 as the drop-dead day for taxes to be completed and postmarked – or, increasingly, electronically filed – it’s April 18. (And even a day later for residents of Massachusetts and Maine.) And it’s all because of a little-known holiday observed in Washington.
Tax day is generally pushed to the next business day if April 15 falls on a Saturday or Sunday. But this year, tax day is being pushed to April 18 because of a conflict with Emancipation Day, an official public holiday that’s observed by the District of Columbia, where the IRS is located.
Emancipation Day – which marks the day in 1862 that Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Proclamation freeing 3,100 slaves in the district – is on April 16, a Saturday this year. (Lincoln signed the final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order that freed slaves in the Confederate states, in January 1863.) When Emancipation Day falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the holiday moves to the nearest weekday. So D.C. will mark Emancipation Day on April 15 – and tax day is moved to Monday, April 18.
“Since Emancipation Day is a legal holiday, it gets precedence over the April 15 tax deadline,” the IRS says.
Still, although April 15 is the holiday, it’s not the date for the celebration: The city will mark the day with a parade and fireworks on April 16.
Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts won’t have to file until April 19. That’s because both states observe Patriots’ Day as a legal holiday that falls on the third Monday of April, and IRS offices in those states will be closed.
Therefore, the IRS says, “taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts will have until Tuesday, April 19, 2016, to file their individual income tax returns.”
A small fire at IRS headquarters this week will not affect the processing of returns, which is done elsewhere.
Surveys suggest that most filers don’t wait until the last minute: Only 1 in 4 Americans waited until the end of tax season to file their returns, according to a 2014 McClatchy-Marist Poll.