April 15 is always Tax Day, right? Well, not this year. Here’s why

U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form 1040's are displayed for a photograph in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thursday, March 29, 2007.
U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form 1040's are displayed for a photograph in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thursday, March 29, 2007. BLOOMBERG NEWS

April 15 is one of the most well-known dates on the American calendar: the day when tax returns are usually due.

But if you’re one of those procrastinators who hasn’t filed yet, you’re in luck this year. That’s because Tax Day has been pushed back to Tuesday – April 18 – because of a Washington, D.C. holiday.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, 20 percent to 25 percent of American taxpayers file in the last two weeks of the tax season. Roughly 7 percent request a six-month extension to file.

Why April 18?

April 15 falls on a Saturday this year, which would usually push the tax-filing deadline back to the following Monday, April 17. But that’s the day that Washington, D.C. will observe Emancipation Day this year, bumping back the deadline for filing taxes to Tuesday, April 18.

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, a bill that ended slavery in the nation’s capital. To mark the anniversary of the signing of the bill, which took place nine months before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Emancipation Day is usually held on April 16 in Washington, D.C.

However, because Emancipation Day falls on a Sunday this year, it will be observed in Washington, D.C. on Monday instead. Many government and city offices will be closed.

Electronically filed returns must be submitted to the IRS and the N.C. Department of Revenue by midnight April 18. For people filing via paper, returns must be postmarked by the end of the day April 18.

How do I get an extension?

You can get an extension to file your tax return but make your tax payment by the April due date. Here are instructions on how to get more time to file.

To apply for a 6-month extension, taxpayers in North Carolina must fill out Form D-410, the Application for Extension for Filing Individual Income Tax Return, by April 18. The form is available online through the state Department of Revenue website at www.dornc.com. The state does not accept any federal extension forms in lieu of the North Carolina extension form, according to the department’s website. It extends the deadline to Oct. 16.

Those who are out of the United States on the tax due date and are required to file a North Carolina individual income tax return are given an automatic 4-month extension if they fill in the “Out of the county” circle on Page 1 of Form D-400, the North Carolina Individual Income Tax Return. If they were already given an additional four months to file under these circumstances, submitting the application for extension provides an extra two months to file.

But an extension to file taxes is not an extension to pay owed taxes. By April 18, individuals must pay any remaining taxes due for 2016 or may be subject to late payment penalties and interest. Late payment penalties will not be levied on people who pay at least 90 percent of their tax liability by withholding, estimated tax payments or with Form D-410 by the original due date, according to the N.C. Department of Revenue.

When is my final deadline?

For individuals submitting 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ forms and corporations filing form 1120, the deadline is Oct. 16 to file and pay any taxes due to the IRS. However, those filing late must file for an extension.

Where can I get free help with my taxes?

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free help to people who earn $54,000 or less, people with disabilities and limited English-speaking individuals.

For all taxpayers, but particularly those who are 60 or older, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program provides tax counseling and assistance with questions about pensions and retirement issues.

Volunteers with both programs are certified by the Internal Revenue Service and provide assistance with filling out forms for state tax refunds, Social Scurity benefits, unemployment benefits, pension income and self-employed income. A complete list of forms VITA and TCE will help you prepare is available online through IRS.gov.

To find a VITA or TCE site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool at irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep or call 800-906-9887. Operating hours vary from site to site. In Raleigh, sites include Wake Technical Community College, Wake County Human Services, St. Raphael Catholic School and Catholic Parish Outreach. A list of materials people should bring to their local site is available online on the IRS website.

Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; miszler@newsobserver.com