Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress on Wednesday that the Internal Revenue Service will delay the April 15 tax-filing deadline to help Americans cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mnuchin said the delay would apply to individuals and small businesses, and that he did not need the approval of Congress to do it. It would be part of a broader package of stimulus the Trump administration is planning, he said in testimony to the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. He did not specify what the new deadline would be.
“For small- and medium-sized businesses, for hardworking individuals, we are going to recommend to the president that we allow the delay and that they don’t have to pay an interest or penalty on that,” Mnuchin said. “That will have the impact of putting over $200 billion back into the economy, and that will create a very big stimulus.”
Of course, many individuals are expecting a tax refund that they can’t put back into the economy without filing their return. There were about 111.8 million refunds issued for the 2018 tax year, totaling $320 billion, according to Internal Revenue Service data. The average refund last year was $2,869.
For taxpayers who owe money, they normally are required to pay by April 15 or owe penalties and interest charges. The IRS already allows people to request an extension that gives them an additional six months to file their paperwork, but any taxes they owe are normally due on April 15.
Under Mnuchin’s plan, the IRS, a department of Treasury, would waive interest payments or other penalties for missing the April 15 tax deadline.
Mnuchin told Congress the government could issue more Treasury bills to make up the temporary revenue delay.
The U.S. tax code allows the IRS to extend tax-filing deadlines following events such as natural disasters. In the past, the IRS has provided that type of relief for areas of the country impacted by tornadoes or hurricanes.