Secretary Mnuchin: It’s Time to Extend the Tax Filing Deadline to July 15th

UPDATE: Two minutes after I finish this post Secretary Mnuchin announced that the tax deadline has been extended until July 15th.

I don’t want the deadline extended just to have it extended; however, it’s a necessity given what almost all tax professionals and their clients are going through today. Almost no tax professionals are seeing clients face-to-face. Many professionals have had to close their offices, or are working from home with reduced (or no staff). Given that over half of all tax returns are prepared by professionals, we’re between a rock and a hard place.

I’ve lost 25% of my staff. Now, we’re not a big firm but I suspect that between staff reduction and slower speeds of working from home, the 25% reduction in what we can do is typical of most tax firms (and it might even be better than most). I know we’re not getting to everything by April 15th.

Additionally, you are supposed to estimate your income when filing an extension. (Technically, if you don’t do that your extension can be ruled invalid by the courts and/or IRS.) That’s simply not going to happen this year. Yet the only thing firms will be able to do is simply file $0 extensions–there won’t be time to do anything else.

Consider firms in California. Yesterday, Governor Newsom ordered all businesses (except ‘essential’ businesses–and tax firms aren’t) closed, with sheltering at home. There will be firms where extensions don’t get filed!

My understanding is there is legislation pending in Congress that would extend the deadline to July 15th. Under the circumstances we’re in, Secretary Mnuchin should simply announce that the filing deadline and all payment deadlines (except wage withholding) are extended to July 15th. Right now, second quarter estimated payments are still due on June 15th!

Americans have a lot more to deal with than filing tax returns. Secretary Mnuchin, it’s time to do the right thing.

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