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Why April 15 is Tax Day, but not in 2023

April 15 deadline or not Xed over

Happy Tax Day! Except in 2023, April 15 isn't the practical filing deadline.

As tax procrastinators know, the convergence of this being a Saturday and Monday being the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C., Tax Day 2023 doesn't arrive until Tuesday, April 18.

Today is, however, a good day to look at how the middle of April came to be one of America's most feared and hated days.

Changing tax deadlines: I provided an answer, briefly, in my post Why is April 15 Tax Day? on this day in 2012.

April 15 wasn't always Tax Day. As the Internal Revenue Service's Historical Highlights of the IRS web page notes, in 1954 the filing deadline for individual tax returns changed from March 15 to April 15. The new deadline took effect in 1955.

But why? Money. It's almost always about the money.

As my earlier post noted, part of the reason for the later tax deadline was that it gave Uncle Sam access to our money — that is, refunds that were to be issued — for a bit longer.

Another reason for the change is that Form 1040 had become too dang complicated, writes Brett Hersh in the Why Is April 15th the Extension-Filing Deadline? post at his Overnight Accountant blog.

Plus, things at this time also were getting more complicated for the IRS.

As the number of taxpayers submitting returns boomed back in the 1950s (thanks post-War War II income increases), the IRS was overwhelmed, notes Hersh. And, back to the money, tax agency employees needed additional processing time before the law required interest be paid on refunds.

Time to again rethink Tax Day's date? Hersh also argues in his post for moving Tax Day even deeper into the year, like around June 15.

Mid-summer is not a bad date, since mid-June already is Tax Day for U.S. taxpayers who live abroad, as well as an estimated tax payment deadline.

But back to today, officially if not exactly Tax Day this year. If you want to take a break from working on your taxes, check out the aforementioned (and linked) Saturday Shout Out pieces by me, the IRS, and Hersh on the history of April 15.

They might not offer any specific filing help (you can find some here instead), but maybe you'll get some misery-loves-company comfort in knowing that the process you're dealing with right now has been going on for a long time.

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