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 ThuneThe Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal Trump dismisses legal questions on GOP nomination speech at White House 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 DainesFrom a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project MORE (R-Mont.), Angus KingAngus KingSenate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Trump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court cancels shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline | US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds | Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic MORE (I-Maine), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate GOP opens door to smaller coronavirus deal as talks lag Hillicon Valley: Google extending remote work policy through July 2021 | Intel community returns final Russia report to Senate committee after declassification | Study finds election officials vulnerable to cyberattacks Intel community returns final Russia report volume to Senate after declassification review MORE (R-N.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenExclusive: Democrats seek to increase racial diversity of pandemic relief oversight board Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (D-Md.).

When announcing the extension for tax payments, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinNavarro, Mnuchin clashed in front of Trump in Oval Office over TikTok: WaPo Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement' Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter 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 NealBiden says Trump executive order is 'a reckless war on Social Security' Conservatives urge Trump to take unilateral action to suspend payroll tax collection Treasury to conduct policy review of tax-exempt status for universities after Trump tweets 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.