Mnuchin leaves door open to further extending tax deadline
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday said that his department does not currently plan to further extend the tax-filing deadline but that it’s an issue he’s pondering.
“As of now, we’re not intending on doing that, but it is something we may consider,” Mnuchin said during a virtual event hosted by Bloomberg.
As businesses started to close in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury and the IRS postponed the deadlines for individuals to file their 2019 tax returns and pay their 2019 taxes from April 15 to July 15. Treasury and the IRS also extended a host of other tax due dates to July.
Mnuchin said it made sense in March to extend the filing deadline “because we were absolutely worried about people who couldn’t get to their accountants, couldn’t get their information.” But he also noted that a majority of Americans have already filed their 2019 tax returns.
According to IRS data through June 12, the number of tax returns processed and the number of refunds are both down about 12 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Mnuchin said that people who can file their tax returns now should do so, particularly if they think they’re going to get a refund.
“We’ll look carefully as we approach this July date,” he said.
Mnuchin’s comments come after a group of conservative organizations urged him to further extend tax-payment deadlines into next year, arguing that doing so would “give the economy some much-needed breathing room.”
Mnuchin’s remarks also come as IRS employees are in the process of returning to their work sites after most agency workers were directed in March to work remotely amid the pandemic.
Mnuchin said that a lot of areas within Treasury have been able to effectively work with most employees teleworking but that there were some parts of the department, such as the IRS, where it became harder for many tasks to be performed.
“We had truckloads of mail backup,” he said.
Mnuchin spoke at Bloomberg’s virtual event shortly after he met with Senate Republicans to discuss potential future coronavirus relief legislation.
The Treasury secretary said that the administration is “very seriously considering” another stimulus bill and that the White House wants to take its time to ensure that future legislation is targeted to the businesses most affected by the pandemic. Mnuchin said he thinks a bill could pass both chambers of Congress in July.
Mnuchin signaled that the next package is unlikely to include infrastructure spending. He said that President Trump remains interested in infrastructure but that most projects aren’t “shovel ready,” so new funding for roads and bridges wouldn’t cause people to go back to work in the next few months.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in April that infrastructure would not be a part of the next coronavirus relief bill, saying that infrastructure is unrelated to the pandemic. House Democrats last week rolled out a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, aimed at boosting the economy, that is separate from a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill they passed in May.