IRS pushes filing season deadline to May 17 as it rolls out expanded pandemic benefits

The IRS is moving this year’s April 15 tax filing season deadline back to May 17, citing ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement Wednesday that the new deadline would give the public more time to take stock of their finances, while also giving agency employees more time to implement new responsibilities under the American Rescue Plan.

“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities,” Rettig said.

Rettig said taxpayers should still file their returns as soon as possible, and do so electronically. Most tax refunds from electronically filed returns are issued within 21 days.

The IRS dealt with significant backlogs in mail processing early in the pandemic. At its worst, the agency faced a backlog of 20 million unopened pieces of mail.

Rettig told members of the House Appropriations last month that the IRS was open to the possibility of extending this year’s filing season deadline, but said at the time that an extension wasn’t necessary.

The IRS and the Treasury Department have issued about 90 million of the third-wave Economic Impact Payments authorized under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed earlier this month.

While Rettig told lawmakers the IRS was prepared to issue a third wave of stimulus payments, the spending bill also temporarily expands child tax credits and will result in some households receiving monthly checks for $300 per child.

Professional Managers Association President Chad Hooper said the organization is aware of backlogs at the IRS “caused by a confluence of factors out of the agency’s direct control.”

“Our members continue to do more with less and are committed to delivering much-needed economic relief and a timely filing season to all the taxpayers we serve,” Hooper said.

National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said in a statement that the extended deadline allows taxpayers to learn more about these benefits while also preparing their tax returns.

“Meanwhile, frontline IRS employees will continue to work diligently to deliver a second successful filing season during a global pandemic. NTEU believes this extension will benefit employees and taxpayers alike by giving everyone more time to take the necessary steps to benefit from whatever financial aid they are entitled to under the American Rescue Plan,” Reardon said.

Bloomberg first reported Wednesday that IRS executives planned to push the deadline back by about a month.

The IRS already pushed back the filing season deadline for residents of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana living in FEMA-declared disaster zones following severe winter storms. The IRS says that extension remains.

All taxpayers who need more time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request an extension to file by Oct. 15.

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