The extension to file returns would also be coupled with the IRS staff working diligently to process returns and get refunds to individuals as soon as possible.
As if Americans needed more on our minds, the IRS’ tax-filing deadline is less than one month away. April 15 already is an annual headache. This year, it threatens to become a cranium-cleaving migraine, due to the still-unfolding coronavirus catastrophe and the widely expanding waves of worry: some 10 million kids at 600 colleges heading home two to three months early, major-league sports on indefinite hold, restaurants and theaters begging for patrons, passenger jets turned into flying ghost towns, ski resorts purged of skiers, China and Europe largely beyond reach. And much more.
President Trump should give Americans a massive break and push the tax-return deadline back a full quarter — to July 15. The same should apply to estimated-tax payments, which self-employed individuals, small-business owners, and sole proprietors like me file quarterly. Likewise, those of us who take the automatic six-month tax-filing extension through Oct. 15 also should be excused, until mid-July, from submitting our anticipated tax liability.
These actions would let Americans breathe a massive, national sigh of relief — right into our collective elbow. The rapidly morphing COVID-19 crisis is rattling enough without having to locate pay stubs, chase receipts, and complete government forms. Many Americans are self-isolating for medical necessity. Millions of others are doing so out of an abundance of caution and what now seems a patriotic duty to hide at home.
This has become a dreadful time to walk, drive or ride a crowded subway to H&R Block and spend 15 minutes or more speaking up close with tax preparers and often bankers, notaries public, photocopy-shop personnel, and Post Office employees. Which among them might be carrying this delightful pathogen without even knowing it? And which among them might go to work without it and then go home with it — perhaps courtesy of a gregarious taxpayer who unwittingly transmits it?