A handful of federal lawmakers want the Internal Revenue Service to push back this year’s income tax filing deadline, just like it did last spring.
Last week, an Internal Revenue Service official said the tax collection agency isn’t planning to change the April 15 filing deadline, but eight Democratic lawmakers say that’s what needs to happen in order to “eliminate unnecessary taxpayer and practitioner anxiety.”
The IRS started accepting taxes on Feb. 12, which was a slightly later start than usual to tax season.
The “condensed filing season” means a tighter timeframe for taxpayers to prepare themselves if they owe taxes and need to pay by April 15, according to the letter, signed by lawmakers including Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight.
The April 15 date is the deadline to pay taxes. It’s also the deadline to submit a return, but taxpayers can get an extension to Oct. 15. They can also work out installment plans if they cannot pay the full amount owed by April 15.
Last year, the IRS moved the tax filing deadline back to July 15 in part because of the toll the pandemic was taking on both taxpayers’ finances and the agency’s ability to process returns.
There’s heavy demand this year for free tax preparation services geared towards low-income households, the letter said. But at the same time, “health and safety concerns continue to keep taxpayer assistance sites closed and taxpayers homebound,” it added. This creates an access problem that’s especially pressing for people with limited computer access or limited English proficiency, the lawmakers said.
In a separate letter, Pascrell and others pressed the IRS for information on how many free tax preparation sites will be open this year through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. The lawmakers also want to know how the IRS plans to get the word out on their free services.
The demand for help has been “extraordinary,” wrote Lynnette Lee-Villanueva, vice president and national director of AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, in written statements submitted ahead of a Thursday hearing on access to free tax preparation. The program helping senior citizens with their taxes had 100,000 inquiries since January, she said.
The pandemic’s economic consequences have been crushing for low-income households. In any year, refunds for overpayment of taxes and tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit are critical sources of liquidity for these taxpayers, advocates say. This year, anyone who missed out on stimulus payments or didn’t get the full amount can claim it on their 2020 income taxes.
Given the circumstances, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig has previously said this is “one of the nation’s most important filing seasons ever.”
The Internal Revenue Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.