Holiday pushes tax filing deadline to April 18

Posted January 4, 2011
Updated January 8, 2011

— Taxpayers will get an extra three days to file their federal tax returns this year, and they can thank the nation's capital for the extra time.

The filing deadline is delayed because the District of Columbia will observe Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15. By law, local holidays in the nation's capital impact tax deadlines the same way federal holidays would, the Internal Revenue Service said.

Taxpayers will have until midnight Monday, April 18, to file their 2010 returns. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their returns.

Emancipation Day marks the occasion when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Lincoln signed the bill on April 16, 1862, more than eight months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which eventually led to all slaves being freed.

The IRS expects to process more than 140 million individual tax returns this year. Most taxpayers can fill out their returns and file them as soon as they receive all their tax documents from employers, banks and other financial institutions. Some taxpayers, however, will have to wait to file until mid- to late February to file their returns because of late changes to the 2010 tax law passed by Congress in December.

The IRS said it needs more time to re-program its processing systems to take into account the new law. The agency plans to announce a more definitive filing date before then.

The IRS said taxpayers who will need to wait to file fit into three categories: 

  • Taxpayers claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 enacted Dec. 17, which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes and is claimed on Schedule A, Line 5. Because of late Congressional action to enact tax law changes, anyone who itemizes and files a Schedule A will need to wait to file until mid- to late February.
  • Taxpayers claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students — covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution — is claimed on Form 8917. However, the IRS emphasized that there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit.
  • Taxpayers claiming the Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23, and Form 1040A, Line 16.

For taxpayers who must wait before filing, the delay will affect paper and electronic filers.


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