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Even though today is April 15, for the first time in decades, Americans don’t need to worry about filing their federal income tax returns.
The decision to delay the deadline, announced by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in mid-March, gives Americans three months longer than usual to file tax returns, regardless of whether they are sick, quarantined or healthy. The new deadline is July 15.
By extending the deadline, the federal government is allowing individuals and businesses to hold onto their cash longer as they deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has paralyzed the U.S. economy and threatened to thrust the nations into a downturn that experts warn may be the worst since the Great Depression.
More than 40 states have issued strict stay-at-home mandates for citizens and ordered the closure of businesses deemed nonessential, leading to a bloodbath month for unemployment. The Department of Labor has said that in the four weeks through April 4, more than 17 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims, a stunning sign of the depth of the crisis.
Still, if you're owed an income tax refund for 2019, the federal government has urged you to file your taxes before the July 15 deadline.
“I encourage all taxpayers who may have tax refunds to file now to get your money,” Mnuchin tweeted in March.
Most states followed the federal government’s suit and extended the filing deadline into at least May, if not longer. Virginia established a May 1 due date but said it will not charge late penalties on payments made by June 1. Most states, including Alabama, New York, New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania, changed their deadline to July 15. You can check the full list of states here.
As of April 3, the IRS received more than 97.4 million tax returns and issued more than $213 billion in refunds. While the agency is still processing electronic returns and issuing direct deposit refunds, it may be harder to receive help if you have any questions throughout the process.
Last week, the IRS said its live telephone assistance is unavailable because of the virus.
"Normal operations will resume when possible," the IRS said.
The U.S. has the most cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, in the world, with more than 609,000 reported, according to Johns Hopkins data. More than 29,000 people have died from the virus.