Saturday, April 17, 2021

Fact Check

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If Your Time is short

  • A 2018 Facebook post that misstates the IRS tax filing deadline is recirculating again, causing some people to be concerned.
  • The usual tax deadline is April 15, but this year, the IRS has extended it to May 17; for taxpayers in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, it’s June 15.

It’s April Fools’ Day, and many of us are probably on the lookout for the usual funny business. But a Facebook post warning of a looming tax deadline has some people legitimately wondering whether it’s for real.

The post is a cartoon-style picture of a character saying, “The tax deadline is April 18th. Do your taxes soon.”

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Many have responded to the post to say that’s the wrong date — and it is wrong — but some are still confused about when taxes are due. We looked into it to help make sure you don’t get fooled, or miss an important deadline.

The post actually dates back to March 29, 2018, the first clue that it’s not to be taken seriously. But the April 18 deadline would have been incorrect for that year, too, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

In an announcement published in January 2018, the IRS said its deadline for tax returns that year was April 17, two days later than usual.

The traditional deadline to file is April 15, unless a legal holiday in Washington, D.C. pushes that date back. In 2018, April 15 fell on a Sunday, and the following day was Emancipation Day in D.C., which pushed the deadline back to Tuesday, April 17.

For this year, the IRS pushed the filing deadline back to May 17, because of the pandemic. The deadline was delayed for the pandemic in 2020 also.

“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig explained in a statement.

Rettig urged people to file as soon as possible, “especially those who are owed refunds.” Filing online and arranging for direct deposit is the quickest way to get those refunds, he said.

The IRS said individual taxpayers can also postpone their federal income tax payments until May 17, without facing penalties or interest, regardless of how much is owed. After that date, penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any unpaid balance.

Taxpayers in Texas, Oklahoma or Louisiana have even more time. Because of a federal disaster-area declaration following the winter storms there, the IRS moved the deadline for these three states to June 15. This deadline applies to filing individual and business tax returns and making tax payments.

Our ruling

A 2018 Facebook post that’s recirculating now said the tax deadline is April 18.

That wasn’t true for 2018, and it’s not true for this year either. This year’s deadline for most taxpayers was moved to May 17 because of the pandemic.

Taxpayers in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana have until June 15, because of the winter storms there.

We rate this post False.

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