Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee are urging the Internal Revenue Service to extend tax season beyond April 15 to give taxpayers another three months until July 15.
Lawmakers on the tax-writing committee in Congress wrote a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on Thursday to make the request, pointing to what happened last year in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic as Congress and the IRS moved to provide relief to taxpayers to deal with the pandemic. At that time, they also gave taxpayers and tax professionals an automatic extension on the tax-filing deadline until July 15, and states followed suit.
With coronavirus still spreading across the country despite the uncertain rollout of vaccines, taxpayers and tax professionals are still coping with challenges of the pandemic. The IRS was forced to delay tax season this year by about three weeks until last Friday in order to distribute the second round of Economic Impact Payments authorized by Congress in December, so taxpayers and tax pros could use the extra time, especially with all the tax provisions contained in last year’s stimulus packages like the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
“One year later, another unique filing season is underway, and many of these same pandemic-related difficulties and challenges persist for taxpayers, practitioners, and the IRS,” the lawmakers, led by House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., wrote to Rettig. “For starters, health and safety concerns continue to keep taxpayer assistance sites closed and taxpayers homebound. As a result, taxpayers are having a much harder time receiving the crucial assistance they are accustomed to and require. These challenges are especially acute for low-income taxpayers with limited digital or English proficiency.”
They pointed to added challenges this year due to the condensed filing season, with April 15 coming only two months after the opening of the 2021 filing season. “We are troubled that this reduced timeline will exacerbate difficulties for many taxpayers who may be unprepared for the amount due with their return and will have no savings to turn to and less time to consider their options,” they wrote. “Importantly, as well, the IRS is still processing millions of returns from last year and has had less time to adjust to the training and safety needs of newly-hired or recalled employees.”
They asked the IRS to consider an extension of the tax-filing deadline by making an announcement as soon as possible to eliminate unnecessary anxiety for both taxpayers and tax practitioners.