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 ThuneTrump's magical thinking won't stop the coronavirus pandemic Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill 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 DainesHow much damage? The true cost of the Senate's coronavirus relief bill McConnell says T bill is 'emergency relief' and not a 'stimulus' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden moves to unify party before general election MORE (R-Mont.), Angus KingAngus KingSenators offer bill to extend tax filing deadline Russia using coronavirus fears to spread misinformation in Western countries Hillicon Valley: House passes key surveillance bill | Paul, Lee urge Trump to kill FISA deal | White House seeks help from tech in coronavirus fight | Dem urges Pence to counter virus misinformation MORE (I-Maine), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Stimulus bill to prohibit Trump family, lawmakers from benefiting from loan programs Gaetz accuses Burr of 'screwing all Americans' with stock sale MORE (R-N.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' GOP blames environmental efforts, but Democrats see public health problems with stimulus Blame game heats up as Senate motion fails MORE (D-Md.).

When announcing the extension for tax payments, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Trump asserts power to decide what info inspector general gives Congress about stimulus package 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 NealJudge puts new hold on Democrats' lawsuit seeking Trump tax returns MA lawmakers press HHS secretary on status of state's protective equipment Senators offer bill to extend tax filing deadline 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.