Tax deadline looms |

Tax deadline looms

April first has come and gone and that means the national deadline for filing federal income taxes is right around the corner. Citizens of the United States must have their federal income taxes filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by Monday April 18.

Historically Tax Day, the deadline for filing federal taxes, has been on April 15 unless the 15 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, in which case Tax Day is typically pushed forward to the following Monday. This year however Tax Day has been pushed to Monday April 18 because of the District of Columbia’s observance of “Emancipation Day”.

Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington but rarely celebrated outside the old confederacy, celebrates the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War. The holiday is celebrated each year on April 16 in the District of Columbia; President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act freeing slaves in the District on April 16, 1862. If and when April 16 falls on a weekend, as it does in 2016 falling on a Saturday, Emancipation Day is celebrated in Washington on the closest weekday, in this case Friday April 15.

Because Emancipation Day is a legal holiday in the District public workers, including IRS employees, receive the day off. Because of the coincidental calendar breakdown the rest of the nation’s workers will receive an additional weekend to complete their taxes.

The IRS began accepting individual tax returns electronically on Jan. 19 this year. This is also the second year the IRS has begun phasing in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, mandate requiring all US citizens have health insurance.

With few exceptions any US citizens who does not have health insurance will be required to pay a fee, officially referred to as the “individual shared responsibility payment”, to the IRS. The fee charged to any individuals without health insurance varies depending on multiple factors.

While many individuals opt to have professionals prepare their taxes for them each year, especially entrepreneurs and small business owners, workers with a single source of income and few deductions can file their own taxes online with relatively little difficulty. According to the IRS’s web site,, “seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File.” The IRS also provides all fillable forms electronically, regardless of individual income.

The IRS also offers free tax preparation help for individuals who qualify. You can find more about their two programs, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, and who qualifies for assistance through the programs by going to the IRS’s web site and searching for “free tax prep”.

The IRS continues to recommend both e-filing of tax returns and direct deposit for refunds as, “the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.” Their web site states the IRS expects to issue nine out of 10 refunds to taxpayers over a 21-day period.

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