This year the IRS filing deadline does not fall on its normal gloomy day
April 15 is a day that will live in infamy. In 1865, it was the day that Abraham Lincoln died, after being shot in the head by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater the night before, less than a week after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. And it was in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912 that the Titanic sunk two and a half hours after striking an iceberg, killing 1,517 and separating Jack and Rose only a few hours after they had discovered their one true love.
In America, April 15 has the further distinction of being Tax Day (at least most years). Why is this exactly? Is it because the government wanted to make sure the federal tax due date fell on an appropriately somber day? Or was it just an arbitrary decision made by a government that consistently fails to apply reasoning or foresight to its actions?
The latter, unfortunately. This is America, after all. When income tax was first introduced to America – aside from a brief cameo during the Civil War, which interestingly appears several times in our tale – the 16th Amendment adopted in 1913 designated March 1 as the day that income taxes would be due. Then when Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1918, it pushed the date back two weeks to March 15. The date changed again in 1955 when Congress made revisions to the tax code and decided to make the deadline a whole month later on April 15.
Why, you may ask. Well the government has been coy about supplying a concrete answer but the IRS has stated that it wanted to spread out tax season to make it easier to process the ever increasing number of returns flowing into the agency. It has also been suggested that the government pushed the date back so that it could hold on to refund money longer.
Whatever the reason, Tax Day has held steady on April 15 for the last half a century, the only day you can really look forward too with any certainty other than the day you die. Or is it? This year, that unmovable rock of permanence has turned out to be not so permanent after all.
This year the financial world’s Old Faithful is erupting on a different day – April 17. For most tax aficionados this is old news, a horse that was beaten to death back in January before filing even started. But if you are a chronic tax procrastinator who always waits until the last minute to file – and has somehow miraculously made it through the first 400 words of this article – you may not realize that this year you have an extra two days to put off complying with federal law!
This year April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 falls on Emancipation Day an obscure and inconveniently scheduled holiday only celebrated in the District of Columbia. It was on April 16 in 1862 that the District of Columbia’s 3,100 slaves were freed by President Lincoln, whose death would later come to cast a pall of gloom around Tax Day of the nation he saved. How about them degrees of separation!
With the 2012 deadline for taxes only days away, you’d best start the filing process now.
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