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No Extension of July 15 Filing Deadline, IRS Announces

Posted on June 30, 2020

No further federal tax return filing or payment deadline extension will be forthcoming as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, Treasury and the IRS have announced.

“The tax filing and payment deadline of July 15 will not be postponed,” a June 29 IRS release said, noting that individuals may still file for an automatic extension to October 15.

“After consulting with various external stakeholders, we have decided to have taxpayers request an extension if more time is needed,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a separate release. 

In June 23 comments, Mnuchin seemed to have left the door open to a further delay.

The IRS said taxpayers facing hardships should pay what they can by July 15 to reduce interest and penalties, noting that the agency offers “a variety of payment options available for the remaining balance.”

In a series of notices (Notice 2020-18, 2020-15 IRB 590; Notice 2020-20, 2020-16 IRB 660; Notice 2020-23, 2020-18 IRB 742; and Notice 2020-35, 2020-25 IRB 948), the IRS delayed this year’s April 15 deadline for filing tax returns and paying federal income taxes by three months and postponed other time-sensitive actions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Myriad Factors

Several factors likely came into play in the government’s consideration of postponing the filing date.

Kirsten Wielobob of EY said June 26 during her firm’s webinar that the IRS and Treasury’s evaluation of an additional delay in filing returns would include, for example, an assessment of the effects on the public and an analysis of the “data on how many taxpayers have filed and who they are.”

Wielobob, a former IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, said that analysis could include whether those taxpayers are “due refunds or have big tax bills.” Consideration would likely be given to the number of returns yet to be filed that are projected to be completed by practitioners, she said, adding that that’s because one argument for extending the date is that “people can’t get to their tax professional.”

Wielobob said the government’s assessment must also consider implications for the IRS. “Typically, the agency kicks into high gear for the next filing season after June 30,” and if it is “so focused on the current filing season, it’s really going to be difficult to program and plan for the next one,” she said.

 Wielobob noted that IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig would undoubtedly discuss the approaching filing date during his June 30 testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on the filing season and the IRS’s plans for recovering from the pandemic.

The tax community’s views run the gamut — supporting only payment extensions, neither payment nor filing extensions, or both — and state and local governments fear economic harm and administrative complexities if the federal government extends its deadline.

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation and 21 organizations in a June 18 letter to Treasury requested relief on tax payments — including estimated tax payments and federal excise taxes — by pushing the due date from July to 2021 to give individuals and businesses extra time to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest.

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