True or False: Tax Returns Have Always Been Due on April 15th

True or False: Tax Returns Have Always Been Due on April 15th

The answer is FALSE!

Until 1955, returns were due on March 15. From 1913 to 1918, they were due even earlier, with taxpayers scrambling to meet a March 1 deadline.

In 1954, Congress changed the date to give IRS employees a break, because most returns were coming in near the deadline, swamping the agency. Lawmakers hoped a later deadline would encourage taxpayers to file earlier.

No such luck. Human nature being what it is, returns continued to flood the agency right up to the deadline. In recent years, about 20 percent of returns are filed in the last week of the filing season and the IRS reports that 10 million more taxpayers request extensions.

And a few years ago, the IRS made it even easier to get an extension. Most taxpayers who need more time to file their returns are granted an automatic six month extension, without stating a reason or providing a signature. Here’s a rundown of how the rules have changed:

Old Rules: Taxpayers could obtain an automatic four-month extension from April 15th to August 15th by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Then, those who needed more time had to send another form to the IRS by August 15th. But second requests weren’t automatically granted. Form 2868 required taxpayers to provide a reason why they needed more time. If a request was granted, a taxpayer could get another two months to file, until October 15th.

New Rules: Taxpayers can now request an automatic six-month extension to file. To get the extra time, you only need to file the new Form 4868 by April 15th. This gives taxpayers until October 15th, eliminating the need to interrupt their August vacations to think about taxes.

(However, if the dates fall on a weekend, taxpayers are given until the next business day to file.)