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The Confusion of the Federal Tax Filing Date

April 15th, April 18th, or April 19th?

How can something as simple as an April 15th filing due date for individual tax returns and 1st quarter estimated tax payments be made complicated? Glad you asked, here is what you need to know.


The ingredients. Washington D.C. Emancipation Day, Maine and Massachusetts Patriots Day, the location of IRS filing centers, and a weekend. Mix these ingredients with tax code and revenue procedures to create a filing date maze that takes an IRS analyst to figure out.

The recipe

  • When April 15th lands on a weekend the filing due date is automatically moved to the next Monday as long as it is not a recognized legal holiday.

  • If April 15th falls on a legally recognized holiday, move the filing date to the next non-weekend, non-holiday date.

  • The due date must allow for individuals to drop their tax returns and payments off at their scheduled filing center. So, if the filing center is closed due to holiday, move the filing date to the next available non-holiday, non-weekend date.

  • Recognized legal holidays are based on Washington D.C. Why? Because the law says so. This brings the April 16th Emancipation day uniquely observed in Washington D.C. into play for determining tax filing due dates.

The result; a mess.

When Emancipation Day lands on Saturday, April 16th, it is observed on April 15th. Thus the filing due dates for tax returns and first quarter estimated tax payments moves to April 18th. But wait, a tax-filing center is located in Massachusetts and it is closed on April 18th for observance of that state’s Patriots Day celebration. Since only Maine and Massachusetts observe this holiday they get until April 19th to file their individual tax returns. But estimated tax payments are still due on April 18th for them because they are sent to a center in a different state that is open on the 18th.

Your best bet?

Always be prepared to file your tax return AND 1st quarter estimated tax payment on or before April 15th. You can then keep your filing life simple despite the date mess created by Washington.


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