For three years in a row, Americans are going to get a little extra time to file their taxes, thanks to a holiday that may be completely unknown to you. In 2018, the tax-filing deadline will be April 17 thanks to Emancipation Day.
Emancipation Day is a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, held on April 16 to celebrate the DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862 that ended slavery in Washington, DC.
The tax filing deadline cannot be on a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday. Since Emancipation Day is a legal holiday in DC, closing the IRS offices, it has the same effect on taxes as a national legal holiday. When Emancipation Day and the tax-filing deadline fall on the same day, the tax deadline shifts.
For 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday, and thus the tax deadline would normally be moved to the next Monday, April 16 — except that's Emancipation Day. Thus, the tax-filing deadline is shifted one more day ahead, to Tuesday, April 17.
Residents of the states of Maine and Massachusetts sometimes get another extra day to file thanks to the Patriot's Day holiday, observed there annually on the third Monday of April. When the regular tax deadline in these states coincides with Patriot's Day, either on the regular April 15 deadline, or because of a shift caused by Emancipation Day, the tax deadline is shifted out one day further.
This situation occurred in 2016 because Emancipation Day was moved back to Friday, April 15. That bumped the tax deadline forward to Monday, April 18, 2016. Those in Maine and Massachusetts got an extra day because of the conflict with Patriot's Day on that Monday. In 2017, that was not the case because Patriot's Day is always held on Monday, but the tax deadline was bumped to Tuesday, April 18, 2017, removing the conflict. In 2018, both Emancipation Day and Patriot's Day occur on Monday, April 16, so Patriot's Day again won't conflict with the tax deadline.
Simple, isn't it? No? Well, leave it to the IRS to complicate even the simplest of tasks.
In case you like to plan way ahead, note that 2020 is the next year that all Americans will return to the traditional April 15 deadline. April 15, 2020, will be a Wednesday, unaffected by either Emancipation Day or Patriot's Day.
April 15, 2019 falls on a Monday, missing Emancipation Day but conflicting with Patriot's Day. Residents of Maine and Massachusetts will have one extra day to file their taxes; everyone else will be back to an April 15 deadline.
Procrastinators, beware. You may have a few extra days to file your taxes, but that does not necessarily mean that you should take advantage of them. Filing early could bring you a faster refund. If you owe taxes, you can still defer payment to the due date even if you file ahead. You can also get a jump on any thief trying to file for a fraudulent refund in your name by getting your valid return in first.
If that's not enough to convince you, consider one other important reason — the satisfaction of having your taxes done and out of the way while others struggle and panic. Watch them from a safe distance, and remember how easily that could have been you.
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