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March 10, 2021, 10:43 a.m. EST

‘It is simply not possible.’ Calls for tax deadline extension mount as accountants say they can’t do everything by April 15

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By Andrew Keshner

As the April 15 deadline to file and pay taxes closes in, some of the accountants preparing those returns are telling the Internal Revenue Service they need more time.

“In the current environment, it is simply not possible for many taxpayers and their tax advisers to meet their filing and payment obligations that are due on April 15,” according to a Thursday letter from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The professional organization with more than 431,000 members wants the IRS to move the tax deadline to June 15. Right now, Texas and Oklahoma residents have a June 15 filing deadline because of the severe winter storm last month.

All taxpayers can seek a filing extension until Oct. 15, but April 15 is the time to pay all taxes owed, except for Texas and Oklahoma taxpayers, who have until June 15.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment. Officials have previously said there are no plans to push back the deadline for everyone else. “Presently we don’t see a need to extend the filing deadline,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told federal lawmakers on Feb. 23.

Last year, the IRS moved the deadline back to July 15 as the emerging pandemic upended the filing season and so much else in everyday life.

The AICPA’s letter comes as taxpayers keep filing their 2020 returns at a brisk clip. By the end of last month, the IRS had received 45.2 million individual returns this tax season.

That’s down from the 59.3 million returns received last year at the same point in time. But bear in mind, the IRS began accepting returns later this year, on Feb. 12.

The IRS has already received 14% more returns this year when comparing filing numbers on the first 19 days of the 2020 season to the first 15 days of the 2021 season.

As returns stack up, so do requests to postpone the deadline. This year, those seeking more time include several Democratic lawmakers and AARP leadership.

Both requests noted that this year’s tax season started later. That’s creating unnecessarily tight timeframes during the pandemic when there are open tax questions and logistical concerns about making sure people can get needed tax preparation help.

A recent survey suggests some people are OK with the deadline as is. More than half — 58% — of people polled for a survey for Jackson Hewitt, the national tax preparation chain, said they want to keep the deadline at April 15. Pollsters conducted the 1,000-person survey in late February.

The AICPA letter cites logistical concerns and other issues, like all the tax work related to loan forgiveness for small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program.

There’s also still confusion about claiming missing stimulus check money and the questions include who’s eligible for the money, the letter said. The 2020 tax return is the last chance for people to claim stimulus check money they did not receive.

The AICPA letter acknowledges any extension will create headaches and confusion. But still, it added, “maintaining the April 15 filing and payment deadline does not reflect the real-world hardship and challenges imposed on taxpayers and tax professionals.”

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