Why is the Filing Deadline for Individual Tax Returns April 17 This Year?

As most of us hopefully know by now, individual tax returns for 2011 must be postmarked by Tuesday, April 17th. Why the 17th and not the 15th this year?

Two reasons. The first and most obvious one is that April 15th falls on a Sunday. When April 15th falls on a weekend or a holiday, Tax Day is pushed to the next business day.

However, this year, Monday, April 16th is Emancipation Day, a holiday that is observed in the District of Columbia. According to federal law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have two extra days to file this year.

Emancipation Day is celebrated in Washington D.C. to commemororate Abraham Lincoln signing the Compensated Emancipation Act for the release of about 3,100 enslaved persons in the D.C. on April 16, 1862. That would make this coming Emancipation Day the 150th Anniversary of that event.

Coincidentally, it was Abraham Lincoln on August 5, 1861 that signed the Revenue Act of 1861, which imposed a federal income tax on individuals for the first time to pay for the Civil War...a 3 percent tax on annual incomes over $800. Ah yes, the good ole days.

More info on taxes but of course is available at www.irs.gov. California follows federal guidelines for Tax Day.