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April 15 Tax Return Postmark Deadline? Not This Year

February 13, 2017
Pinning dates on a shifting calendar: Why tax deadlines are a little different this year

Some things seem like they were just meant to go together: peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, peas and carrots. Oil and water—we all know they don’t mix. Turns out tax deadlines and holidays don’t pair well together, either.

While the IRS will have you believing that nothing takes precedence over timely tax filings, national holidays are the exception—and always rule. So, below are some holidays that have 2016 tax-related deadlines. And, if you are the type of person who really loves dates and deadlines, and you want to learn more, read the IRS Publication 509 to your heart's content.

Presidents’ Day (February 20): In the article Brokerage Account 1099 Deadline, we discussed why Form 1099s are no longer required to be sent by January 31, and now have February 15 deadlines.

What is Presidents’ Day? The national holiday was expanded nationwide in the late 1870s to celebrate the life and times of President George Washington. It originally fell on Washington’s birthday, February 22. In 1971, the date was officially changed to the third Monday in February as part of the “Monday Holiday Law,” although the holiday now will never actually fall on Washington’s birthday. Interestingly, it’s still officially referred to as Washington’s Birthday on the federal dockets. Banks, markets, and the post office are all closed for the day.

Emancipation Day (April 17): As most of us tax filers are well aware, we must have tax returns postmarked by April 15—and there are generally long lines around post offices until midnight to attest to that. But thanks to Emancipation Day, that deadline is extended this year. Emancipation Day is an official public holiday celebrated in Washington, D.C., on April 17—meaning that all federal offices are closed. That gives taxpayers across the nation three extra days, until Tuesday, April 18, to get their tax returns postmarked.  

What is Emancipation Day? It marks the anniversary of the day in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln inked the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed more than 3,000 slaves in the District of Columbia. As the official archives tell us, slavery was not formally abolished across the U.S. until after the Civil War, which was fought from 1861 to 1865. It was the 13th Amendment, ratified by 30 of the then-36 states, that put an end to legal slavery in 1865.

This article is an update of the original April 15 Tax Return Postmark Deadline? Not This Year published on March 23, 2016.

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