Tax Day 2018 – How a Little Known Holiday Extends the Tax Deadline

tax day 2017

Tax day 2018 falls on April 17, 2018. You can thank Abraham Lincoln.

For Tax Day 2018, April 17th is the deadline for submitting personal tax returns in the United States. Since 1955, April 15th has been the deadline, but this year April 15th falls on a Sunday. According to the IRS, when tax days fall on a Saturday or Sunday, “a return is considered timely filed if filed on the next succeeding day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.”

You’d think that would make the tax deadline Monday, April 16th, but in Washington DC, they celebrate Emancipation Day. Emancipation Day is observed on April 16th each year. This pushes tax day 2018 to Tuesday, April 17th.

But what is Emancipation Day?

Emancipation Day is legal holiday recognized in the District of Columbia and marks the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act. This act was signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 and freed about 3,100 slaves living in the District of Columbia. This was done eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation liberated slaves in the South.

On April 16, 1862, Lincoln issued this document:

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

The act entitled “an act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia,” has this day been approved and signed.

I have never doubted the constitutional authority of Congress to abolish slavery in this district, and I have ever desired to see the National Capital freed from the institution in some satisfactory way. Hence there has never been in my mind any question upon the subject except the one of expediency, arising in view of all the circumstances. If there be matters within and about this act which might have taken a course or shape more satisfactory to my judgments, I do not attempt to specify them. I am gratified that the two principles of compensation and colonization are both recognized and practically applied in the act.

In the matter of compensation, it is provided that claims may be presented within ninety days from the passage of the act, “but not thereafter”, and there is no savings for minors, femes covert, insane or absent persons, I presume this is an omission by mere oversight, and I recommend that it be supplied by an amendatory or supplemental act.

Emancipation Day also affected the tax deadlines in 2017, 2016, 2012, and 2011. Worry not though, things return to normal next year in 2019.

Enjoy the extra time to file your taxes. And with Tax day 2018 you also get a extra time to earn the Death and Taxes badge on Sporcle.