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PAY (A BIT) LATER

Americans have until midnight tonight to file their taxes, thanks to an obscure legal holiday

Rick Wilking/Reuters
Getting down to the wire.
By Elisabeth Ponsot
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

This story was updated on April 18.

Ever heard of Emancipation Day? This is the legal holiday observed annually in the District of Columbia to celebrate the act that ended slavery in Washington on April 16, 1862.

Me neither. But because of this little-known commemoration, procrastinating taxpayers across the US had an extra three days to file their taxes for 2016.

Here’s what else you need to know:

When is the last day for Americans to file their taxes for 2016?

The filing deadline this year is Tuesday April 18, rather than the usual April 15.

This shift occurs because of a confluence of atypical factors, according to the IRS website. April 15 fell on a Saturday this year. That would have normally moved the deadline to Monday April 17. But since Emancipation Day was commemorated on the 17th, the final deadline is by midnight Tuesday April 18, 2017.

Ahead of this year’s tax season, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Americans should file well before the deadline—policy changes this year may impact how quickly people receive refunds.

“For this tax season, it’s more important than ever for taxpayers to plan ahead,” he said in December.

Koskinen warned of delays with some refunds, but overall the IRS said it still expects to issue most payments in under 21 days.

So…what happens if I miss the April 18 deadline?

If you anticipate missing the cutoff, don’t panic. But if you owe any money in taxes, keep in mind that the more you pay on time, the less interest and penalty charges you will accrue.

The IRS offers these tips for people who miss the deadline, including ways to pay in installments if you don’t have the funds to resolve your taxes right away.

Remember, even if you file an extension, you still need to pay what is due by April 18.

Speaking of Tax Day, will US president Donald Trump ever release his returns?

Almost certainly not.

Trump has bucked a longstanding (though not legally binding) tradition of presidents before him who released their returns in an effort to promote transparency and avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest.

On Jan. 11, Trump claimed that because he won the 2016 election, it showed Americans were demonstrably unconcerned about his taxes.

“I won, when I became president. No, I don’t think they care at all. I don’t think they care at all,” he said.

Polls have shown that a majority of Americans do indeed want Trump to make his returns public. An ABC News/Washington Post poll from January found almost three-quarters agreed that he should do so.

Additionally, 64 percent of Republicans think that Trump should release his returns, per a recent survey by Global Strategy Group.

 

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