Known as Tax Day, April 15 is usually a day associated with the often stressful deadline of filing your state and federal income tax returns. This year however, Americans have a couple of extra days to file their taxes as Tax Day has been pushed to April 18 (that’s this coming Monday, for any procrastinators out there!).
Tax Day was moved this year due to the timing of Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in Washington, D.C. This day celebrates the freeing of slaves in the nation’s capital and is recognized either on April 16, or, if the date falls on a weekend, it’s marked on the weekday closest to that date.
In recognition of Tax Day, The Daily sat down with Tom King, department chair and professor of accountancy at Weatherhead School of Management.
Read on to learn about the history of Tax Day.
1. In the U.S., modern income taxes are a 20th century invention courtesy of the Revenue Act of 1913.
This act, also known as the Underwood Tariff or the Underwood-Simmons Act, was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. It restored a federal income tax for the first time since 1872. This established a 1% tax on income above $3,000 per year, which affected approximately 3% of the population. The act also substantially lowered tariff rates from 40% to 26%. President Wilson had long seen high tariffs as equivalent to unfair taxes on consumers, and tariff reduction was one of his first priorities upon taking office.
2. Income taxes were originally due on March 1.
April 15 has not always been the filing deadline for taxes. After the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913, the filing deadline for individuals was March 1. This was changed in 1918 when it was pushed back to March 15.
3. The Internal Revenue Code of 1954 established April 15 as the due date for personal income tax returns.
March 15 remained the tax deadline from 1918 until the tax overhaul of 1954, when the date was again moved to April 15. The Internal Revenue Code of 1954 was the first major revision of the federal income tax system since 1913. The 1954 code addressed many of the deficiencies that had plagued the income tax for years and remained the standard for more than 30 years, until a new code was created as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Many aspects of the tax code introduced in 1954 still survive to this day.
4. The federal government may choose to give taxpayers more time to file should there be disasters such as hurricanes or pandemics.
This year isn’t the first time the date of Tax Day has been changed. If Tax Day conflicts with a holiday, such as Emancipation Day, it will be moved to a different day from its usual April 15 date. For the last two years, the federal government has shifted the tax filing deadline, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the deadline was July 15, and in 2021, it was May 17.
5. Taxpayers may file for an extension, but they must make an estimated payment by the Tax Day deadline.
Need more time to prepare filing your taxes? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows Americans to file an extension on their taxes for up to six months, making the new deadline Oct. 15. To file a tax extension, you’ll need to submit Form 4868 to the IRS by the April 18 deadline. In doing so, you’ll be delaying your possible tax refund and you still need to pay any expected taxes you owe at the time that you file the extension to avoid late fees.