Lawmakers pose extending tax filing deadline as COVID-19 continues to challenge tax preparation industry

February 18, 2021

The House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee on Thursday held a hearing on the current tax season and raised the prospect of extending the April 15 tax deadline to possibly July 15, which occurred last year.

The witnesses who testified before the panel supported the idea extending the tax deadline.

“That 3-month extension [in 2020] gave both us and our customers the additional time we needed to resume our in-person service,” said Gary Rauschenberger, District Coordinator of the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide in Butler County, Pennsylvania, who testified before the tax-writing committee.

Rauschenberger told the panel that extending the tax deadline is needed this year because social distancing rules mean that fewer clients are served each day. He also said that clients and volunteer tax preparers prefer in-person meetings because remote meetings can be too time consuming.

“In most cases, the time not being spent in person with clients is being shifted by greater reliance on technology (like scanning, e-mailing, telephoning, etc.). While most of my volunteers are willing to freely donate their time via our in-person delivery method, very few expressed interest in any of the new virtual delivery methods. All of the new methods require greater volunteer time,” Rauschenberger said.

Yvonne Zuidema, President & CEO of United Way in Passaic County, New Jersey, also testified before the committee and said that she did not see a downside in extending the current tax season deadline.

However, one lawmaker raised concern about extending the deadline. Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), who is a member on the Ways and Means Committee, raised the issue that extending the tax season deadline would mean less revenue flowing to the federal government in the second quarter.  He asked if an extension to the deadline should be targeted to taxpayers who are struggling to file their tax returns while requiring those not struggling to file by April 15.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who is Chairman of the Subcommittee, said that staff would examine how to extend the tax deadline. That investigation would include if a delay should be available to all taxpayers or a certain few, which would address Rep. Ferguson’s concern.

For the 2020 filing season, the IRS on March 21, 2020, extended the deadline for filing tax returns from April 15 to July 15, 2020. The announcement was in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and pertained to tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses.  

It is unclear what recommendations the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee will make on this issue for the current tax filing season. No officials from the IRS or Treasury Department were present at this hearing.  

Update: Shortly after this blog post was published, eight Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig requesting that the agency extend the tax return filing season beyond April 15, 2021. That letter can be found here.

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