MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you’re a procrastinator when it comes to taxes, time is on your side this year. The deadline to file federal income taxes is April 18 – three days after the usual deadline of April 15.

But, why is April 15 Tax Day? Good Question.

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The U.S. had a federal income tax for about a decade around the Civil War. It came back for good with the Revenue Act of 1913. At that time, the deadline was set for March 1.

“Lawmakers offered no explanation for that date, but it seems likely that it was selected to give taxpayers adequate time to gather materials and complete their returns following the end of the tax (and calendar) year,” writes Joseph Thorndike, a tax historian with Tax Analysts.

In 1918, Congress changed the deadline to March 15. Lawmakers changed it again in 1954 to April 15.

Thorndike says lawmakers thought Americans needed extra time to deal with the extra complexity and paperwork. It was also an opportunity for the IRS to spread out its workload over a longer period of time.

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But, taxes aren’t always due on the 15th. This year, April 15 and 16th are on a weekend. Monday, April 17 is Emancipation day in Washington, D.C., home of the IRS, so the 18th it is.

Taxpayers can also request a six-month extension on a federal income tax return by filling out Form 4868. According to the IRS, about 10 percent of taxpayers do each year, but they still aren’t off the hook on paying taxes or estimated taxes by April 15.

The IRS website states,” Although you aren’t required to make a payment of the tax
you estimate as due, Form 4868 doesn’t extend the time to pay taxes. If you don’t pay the amount due by the regular due date, you’ll owe interest.”

Most states, like Minnesota, require their residents to file their state income tax returns by April 18 this year. But, five states, including Iowa, have due dates later in April or May.

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There’s still time to get an extension to file your tax return. Just fill out this form on the IRS website.