Senators offer bill to extend tax filing deadline

Senators offer bill to extend tax filing deadline
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced legislation to extend the deadline to file tax returns by three months in response to the coronavirus, after the Treasury Department and IRS extended the deadline to make tax payments.

The bill would move the filing deadline for 2019 tax returns from April 15 to July 15, lining up with the postponed deadline for making payments in guidance that Treasury and the IRS released on Wednesday.

“Treasury’s decision to extend the tax payment deadline from April 15 to July 15 was an important first step, but it only makes sense to also extend the tax filing deadline itself,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (R-S.D.), a leading sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “There’s enough confusion amid this outbreak as it is, so I believe it’s incumbent upon Congress to provide as much clarity and relief as possible to American families."

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Other sponsors of the bill include Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesWarren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack Daines to introduce bill awarding Congressional Gold Medal to troops killed in Afghanistan Powell reappointment to Fed chair backed by Yellen: report MORE (R-Mont.), Angus KingAngus KingNorth Dakota Republican latest House breakthrough COVID-19 case Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment MORE (I-Maine), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrAnti-Trump Republicans on the line in 2022 too The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks GOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' MORE (R-N.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo Senate Democrats seeking information from SPACs, questioning 'misaligned incentives' Bottom line MORE (D-Md.).

When announcing the extension for tax payments, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report Menendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS MORE encouraged people to still file their taxes by the April 15 deadline so that they can get the refunds to which they are entitled.

Tax professionals have been arguing that the filing deadline needs to be extended in addition to the payment deadline because it may be challenging for people to meet with their tax preparers as a result of social-distancing efforts due to the coronavirus.

The senators argued that their bill would allow people to still file their returns and get their refunds in the coming weeks, while also giving taxpayers one less thing to worry about.

“By moving the tax filing deadline back, we can offer some breathing room for millions of Americans who are trying to do their civic duty and protect their communities,” King said.

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The senators' bill was praised by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

“During this unprecedented time, taxpayers and tax practitioners are finding it increasingly difficult to comply with upcoming filing deadlines,” said Edward Karl, vice president of tax policy and advocacy for AICPA. “Businesses and individuals struggling with coronavirus-related issues should not also be concerned with meeting upcoming tax filing deadlines."

The bill isn't the only push to extend the filing deadline. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealWhy Democrats opposing Biden's tax plan have it wrong Biden says he supports taxing billionaires' investment gains annually Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs MORE (D-Mass.) on Thursday sent a letter to Treasury asking the department to extend the filing deadline to July 15, and also to extend the June 15 deadline for making second-quarter 2020 estimated tax payments.

“Although Treasury’s decision provided welcome relief for the federal income tax payment deadline, I believe that taxpayers require additional relief,” Neal wrote. He noted that many centers that help low-income and elderly taxpayers file taxes have closed, and that having separate deadlines for filing and payment could cause confusion for taxpayers.