By Jondi Gumz
“IRS deadline 2020” has been one of the top searches on Google since the coronavirus outbreak.
With more than 10,000 people infected, scores of deaths and millions in the U.S. out of work and worried due to layoffs or “shelter in place” orders, people have asked themselves: Will I have to file my federal income tax return by April 15?
The initial answer was yes, but payments wouldn’t be due until later. It only took three days of back-and-forth in the press for that to change.
On March 18, six days after Gov. Newsom’s executive order declaring a state of emergency, California’s Franchise Tax Board announced updated special tax relief for all California taxpayers due to the COVID-19 pandemic: A new deadline of July 15 for the filing and payment for all individuals and business entities.
This applies to 2019 tax returns, 2019 tax return payments, 2020 1st and 2nd quarter estimate payments, 2020 LLC taxes and fees, and 2020 non-wage withholding payments.
“Hopefully, this small measure of relief will help allow people to focus on their health and safety during these challenging times,” said State Controller Betty T. Yee, who chairs the Franchise Tax Board.
However, on March 18, the IRS newsroom posted a statement saying the agency had pushed back the payment deadline to July 15 but keeping the April 15 deadline for taxpayers. The IRS suggested taxpayers who are not ready instead file a form requesting an extension (Form 4868).
Members of Congress heard from taxpayers, and Sen. John Thune R-South Dakota, introduced S.3535 to push back the filing deadline to July 15. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana), and Angus King (Independent-Maine) co-introduced the measure, which got support from AARP, representing people 50 and older, and American Institute of CPAs.
“Let’s not burden taxpayers and tax preparers with the need to file a form while they are confronting coronavirus-related challenges,” said Edward Karl, a CPA and the institute’s vice president of tax policy and advocacy.
On March 20, with 210 fatalities and the number of cases topping 16,000, according to the domo.com tracker, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin announced on Twitter that Tax Day — filing and paying — is being moved from April 15 to July 15. His tweet said payments can be made by the new date with no interest or penalty charged.
The AICPA has posted guidance for disaster relief at https://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/tax/resources/compliance/casualtyloss.html, a page that was last updated in August 2019.
If you have already filed and expect a refund that you haven’t received, you can check the status at https://www.irs.gov/refunds.
The IRS says most refunds are issued in less than 21 days.