In the United States, Tax Day is a colloquial term for the day on which individual income tax returns are due to the federal government. The term may also refer to the same day for states, even where the tax return due date is a different day.
Since 1955, for those living in the United States, Tax Day has typically fallen on April 15. For those filing a U.S. tax return but living outside the United States and Puerto Rico, Tax Day has typically fallen on June 15, due to the two-month automatic extension granted to filers by IRS Publication 54.
Due to Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. (observed on the weekday closest to April 16), when April 15 falls on a Friday, tax returns are due the following Monday; when April 15 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, tax returns are due the following Tuesday.
- In 2015, Tax Day was Wednesday, April 15
- In 2016, Tax Day was Monday, April 18
- In 2017, Tax Day will be Tuesday, April 18
- In 2018, Tax Day will be Tuesday, April 17
Federal income tax was introduced with the Revenue Act of 1861 to help fund the Civil War, and subsequently repealed, re-adopted, and held unconstitutional. The early taxes were based on assessments, not voluntary tax returns. Tax payment dates varied by act.
The case of Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. challenged the constitutionality of the Wilson–Gorman Tariff Act of 1894 which taxed incomes over $4,000 at the rate of two percent. The case was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1895. The Supreme Court decided that the Act's unapportioned income taxes on interest, dividends, and rents were effectively direct taxes. The Act was therefore unconstitutional because it violated the Constitution's rule that direct taxes be apportioned among the states. In 1913, eighteen years later, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. This Amendment gave the United States Congress the legal authority to tax all incomes without regard to the apportionment requirement.
The filing deadline for individuals was March 1 in 1913 (the first year of a federal income tax), and was changed to March 15 in 1918 and again to April 15 in 1955. Today, the filing deadline for U.S. federal income tax returns for individuals remains April 15 or, in the event that the 15th falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, the first succeeding day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or holiday.
Alignment with state and District of Columbia holidays
Tax Day occasionally falls on Patriots' Day, a civic holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and state of Maine, or the preceding weekend. When this occurred for some time, the federal tax deadline was extended by a day for the residents of Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and the District of Columbia because the IRS processing center for these areas was located in Andover, Massachusetts and the unionized IRS employees got the day off. In 2011, the Monday, April 18, Tax Day fell on Patriots' Day. However, federal filings were directed to Hartford, Connecticut, Charlotte, North Carolina and Kansas City, Missouri and there was no further extension for Maine, Massachusetts or other surrounding states' residents. The Maine state tax filing deadline was still extended to April 19 in 2011 due to Patriots' Day.
In 2007, Tax Day was on Tuesday, April 17, 2007 because April 15 fell on a Sunday and Monday, April 16 was Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia. Under a federal statute enacted decades ago, holidays observed in the District of Columbia have an impact nationwide, not just in D.C. A storm and flooding affected the Northeast that year and certain states were granted additional time to file. In some cases, the deadline was extended to as late as June 25. In 2011 and 2016, the federal tax deadline was extended to April 18, since Emancipation Day is celebrated on April 15, a Friday.
- "History of the US Income Tax". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Residents Abroad (Report). Internal Revenue Service. 2013. Publication 54.
- "Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2011-10". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- Roos, Dave. "Why do Americans pay taxes on April 15?". How Stuff Works. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- Ellis, Blake. "Your taxes aren't due today!". CNN. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- "Tax Day by Tax Year: 2014 Tax Due Dates and Filing Deadlines for 2013 Tax Returns". Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- See, for example, Revenue Act of 1861, section 50, Revenue Act of 1862 section 91.
- U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9.
- Sung, Jessica (April 15, 2002). "Why Is Tax Day April 15?". Fortune. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
- "Patriot's Day 2007 Gives Some Taxpayers Extra Tax Time, IR-2006-170". Internal Revenue Service. November 8, 2006. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "Massachusetts: Where to File Addresses for Individual Taxpayers". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- Ohlemacher, Stephen (April 18, 2011). "Who's paying taxes? Half of us". Portland Press Herald. Associated Press. Why is the deadline today? (sidebar). Retrieved April 18, 2011. No reference to Patriots' Day and deadline pegged at "midnight tonight."
- "Tax Day 2011: Tax Deadlines for Tax Year 2010". eFile. Internal Revenue Service. n.d. Retrieved April 18, 2011. No reference to Patriots' Day and deadline pegged at April 18.
- "Due Dates for Certain Tax Forms" (PDF). Maine Tax Report. 21 (1). January 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
- "IRS Gives Northeast Storms Victims Until April 26 to File Tax Returns". Internal Revenue Service. April 18, 2007. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "IRS Grants Tax Relief for Certain Northeast Storm, Flooding Victims; Taxpayers Have Until June 25 to File Returns". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- Ellis, Blake. "Tax day extended to April 18". CNN Money. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- "2016 Tax Season Opens Jan. 19 for Nation's Taxpayers". U.S. Internal Revenue Service. December 21, 2015. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
The filing deadline to submit 2015 tax returns is Monday, April 18, 2016, rather than the traditional April 15 date. Washington, D.C., will celebrate Emancipation Day on that Friday, which pushes the deadline to the following Monday for most of the nation.