Tuesday, January 4, 2011

May All the Procrastinators Bless Emancipation Day

If you have made it this far, then first, you are probably, like I often am, a procrastinator, and second, wondering what in the world is Emancipation Day, and finally, why do I care?

Emancipation Day is a holiday in the District of Columbia celebrating President Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. It falls (normally) on April 16. This year, April 16 is a Saturday and the District is observing the holiday on April 15 -- tax day. And, of course, you knew that District holidays count as federal holidays for tax purposes.

So, since April 18 is the first business day in the District beginning on or after April 15 this year, the IRS has released Information Release 2011-1 officially postponing the regular tax filing deadline until April 18. Of course, all true procrastinators know that the extended tax filing deadline for 2011 is October 17 (October 15 falls on a Saturday).

Also, in the information release is a formal announcement that if you itemize deductions, you need to wait until mid-February, at least, to file (procrastinators don't care). Contrary to popular belief, this is not the fault of the IRS. Here's why.

The IRS works on a budget. Congress appropriates only so many dollars to them every year, and among other things, they find out what they can do with those dollars. During the late fall when the IRS was updating its software for the upcoming tax filing season, the law said that the tax cuts originally enacted as part of EGTRRA in 2001 (Bush era tax cuts) would sunset. So, the IRS not being able to read the collective minds of Congress and the President built their software around the law as written.

Of course, the law changed, and as a result, the IRS software is not ready to handle itemized deductions under the new (you may think of it as old) tax law.

So, pick your favorite whipping post to blame, but make it one from the political arena, not from the IRS.

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