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Tax Day in the United States

Many United States residents mark Tax Day as the deadline to file their income tax details to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The date is usually on or around April 15. However, this deadline may be extended to accommodate holidays or extreme weather conditions.

Is Tax Day a Public Holiday?

Although Tax Day is not a public holiday, businesses and schools may be closed because it falls on the same date as Patriot's Day in 2019, which is a public holiday in Maine and Massachusetts.

Tax day

Tax Day is an important date to remember.

©iStockphoto.com/joel-t

What Do People Do?

A large proportion of residents of the USA have to inform the IRS of all income that they received in the previous fiscal year. Some groups, particularly veterans, pensioners and some low-income families, do not have to file a tax return unless they wish to qualify for certain types of income subsidy. Others may wait until the last moment to file their tax return and pay any money they owe. Some people may find that filing a tax return is complicated, while others may feel that they should not have to pay income tax. In the United States, income tax returns may be filed on paper or electronically. Now, people are encouraged to file a return via Internet as this is efficient and reduces the risk of mistakes being made or documents being lost in the post.

Public Life

Tax Day is not a federal public holiday in the United States. Schools, post offices, stores and other businesses and organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual schedules and no extra congestion on highways is to be expected.

Background

Income tax was first introduced in the United States of America in 1861. A rate of three percent was levied on incomes above $800 per year and the resulting revenue was used to help fund the American Civil War effort. However, income tax was seen as unconstitutional and the law was repealed in 1872. The idea of a tax on personal income, at a rate of two percent, was reintroduced in the Revenue Act of 1894, but the legal status of this kind of tax was still unclear. In 1913, the "Sixteenth Amendment" to the Constitution of the United States was ratified. This cleared the way for the modern income tax system in the USA.

The details of the income tax system have changed greatly since 1913. The top rates of tax have varied enormously and were particularly high during the First and Second World Wars and the Great Depression. Individuals and families with very low levels of income do not have to pay income tax and may receive some subsidy via the tax system.

In 1913 Tax Day, or the filing deadline, was fixed on March 1. However, it was moved to March 15 in 1918 and April 15 in 1955, where it has remained since then. If April 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a civil holiday, such as Patriot's Day, the deadline is extended to the next working day. An extension due to a holiday may only affect certain states. In 2007, the residents of some states were granted an extension due to the disruption to public life in many areas caused by a huge Nor'easter storm. In some years in Washington DC, Emancipation Day may be the reason to extend the deadline for filing an income tax return (Tax Day). In 2007, the observance Emancipation Day in Washington DC had the effect of nationally extending the 2006 income tax filing deadline from April 16 to April 17. This 2007 date change was not discovered until after many forms went to print.

Tax Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuApr 15Tax DayObservance 
2011MonApr 18Tax DayObservance 
2012TueApr 17Tax DayObservance 
2013MonApr 15Tax DayObservance 
2014TueApr 15Tax DayObservance 
2015WedApr 15Tax DayObservance 
2016MonApr 18Tax DayObservance 
2017TueApr 18Tax DayObservance 
2018TueApr 17Tax DayObservance 
2019MonApr 15Tax DayObservance 
2020WedApr 15Tax DayObservance 

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