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Federal holidays that affect taxes

Mount Rushmore National Memorial_Facebook
Today technically is George Washington's Birthday, but we've come to call it Presidents Day in honor of all our commanders in chief, like these four greats on Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (Image courtesy Mount Rushmore Facebook page)

Happy Washington's Birthday.

I know, most of us, including all the retailers offering us sales savings, tend to call today President's (or Presidents'; the apostrophe is mobile) Day.

But officially on the federal level, the third Monday in February is Uncle Sam's day to honor the birth of the Father of Our Country

George's actual birthday is Feb. 22, 1731. We've celebrated it as a regular weekday holiday since 1968, when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act mandating most federal holidays occur on Mondays took effect.

Christopher Jackson, who portrayed George Washington in the Broadway smash "Hamilton," and the show's composer and title character star Lin-Manuel Miranda perform "One Last Time" during a visit to the Obama White House.

We've also informally expanded and renamed it, primarily to include commemoration of Abraham Lincoln's time in the White House. 

Honest Abe definitely deserves special attention because of his leadership during the Civil War and, of course, for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

Our 16th president also can be called the father of our tax system.

No, Lincoln didn't actually write the tax code. He did, however, see the need for taxes to help finance the Civil War. And in August 1851 he signed into law the legislation that created the United States' first federal income tax.

As for the other guys (yep, still just men) who've worked out of the Oval Office, has selected an inspirational quote from each to highlight today.

And several presidents' words are featured in my tax quotes piece (OK, it's a slideshow; sorry) from a few years ago.

Regardless of what you call today or how you celebrate, this federal holiday is a good time to look at how these commemorative days can affect our current-day taxes.

Presidents' Day tax time: Although Internal Revenue Service employees, like federal workers across the nation, get today off, it's still a busy tax time.

The IRS says that the long Washington et al weekend is one of the busiest, as taxpayers who also have some free time take advantage of the day to work on their returns. That usually produces a surge of tax filings in the two weeks following this holiday.

As the filing ramps up, the IRS toll-free telephone help lines will become more jammed. So the agency is encouraging folks (individual taxpayers and tax preparers alike) to use the online resources at

The agency has put together Publication 5136, IRS Services Guide, which details ways to access IRS tax help.


Usual federal holidays' tax effects: As for other federal holidays, for employee paid days off, the IRS recognizes 10 federal holidays.

In January, there are New Year's Day and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday.

February has today, President's Day.

The Memorial Day long weekend is in May, followed about a month later by the July 4th Independence Day celebration.

Labor Day in September and Columbus Day (yes, it's still official, despite protests) in October.

Then the year winds down with Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day in November and Christmas Day in December.

These federal commemorations also can affect those of us who don't work for the IRS, but do file taxes. When a tax deadline is on a weekend or federal legal holiday, that due date is pushed to the next business day.

The MLK Day holiday, for example, sometimes gives estimated tax filers extra time to make that Jan. 15 fourth quarter payment.

Other special federal holidays: The IRS also notes that when a sitting president declares other holidays in recognition of specific events, its workers will get those days off, too.

That happened most recently when President George Herbert Walker Bush died. That day of mourning for Bush 41 in December 2018 also postponed some state and local tax deadlines.

One day that doesn't require commander-in-chief designation (and which ties into to today's inclusion of Lincoln in Washington's birthday holiday) is Emancipation Day.

This is a holiday in the District of Columbia that celebrates Lincoln's signing on April 16, 1862, of the Compensated Emancipation Act, officially ending slavery in the national capital.

Federal law says that holidays observed in Washington, D.C., also must be observed by federal agencies. So when April 16 rolls around, it's an IRS holiday.

And when a weekend means the usual April 15 filing deadline goes into the next work week, when that next day is April 16, then Tax Day gets pushed one more day out thanks to Emancipation Day.

So keep an eye on your calendars, both for general federal holidays and also on how they might affect any tax deadlines you must meet.

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Jeffrey W. Schultz

Ugh! I always forget about this holiday every year. It never fails. I get to the office on President's Day ready to call the IRS Practitioner's Hotline. Then bam! The recording reminds me that the government is closed

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