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Tax code not as confusing as figuring out filing deadline

April 17, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Happy Income Tax Filing Deadline Day, which is either today, tomorrow or yesterday, I'm not sure which.

April 15 was always kind of simple and easy to remember, but as with everything related to the IRS, if it's simple, it's no good.

Since the 15th fell on a Sunday, the deadline got bumped to Monday, but since Monday is Emancipation Day, in the District of Columbia only, it got bumped to Tuesday.

Which is good, because I'm a bit behind in shopping for Emancipation Day gifts, so the extra slack time is a plus.

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I hope this is a lesson to anyone who as ever derided humorous government holidays, because as it turns out, they can do some good.

If we can accumulate enough holidays, we might be able to put off the filing deadline until Halloween, which is a holiday, so it would have to be the day after Halloween.

And there are plenty of worldwide holidays from which to choose. For example, April 17 is Independence Day in Cambodia. April 18 is Paul Revere Day.

April 19 is a huge day around the world. In Malaysia it is the Birthday of Sultan Perak, it is Republic Day in Sierra Leone, Victory at Gir-n Day in Cuba, Mov. Precursor de la Independencia in Venezuela and the Landing of the 33 Patriots Day in Uruguay.

All of this is undoubtedly raising a very serious question in your mind, namely, "How was he ever able to write a full column before the invention of the Internet?"

But beyond that, it makes one wonder how far we could push the IRS. We can hardly be expected to file our tax forms on Sultan Perak's birthday, can we? That goes beyond disrespect.

I also wonder if we could pull a fast one on the government, and get it to name tax filing deadline day as Tax Filing Deadline Day, a fully sanctioned federal holiday. That way, tax filing deadline day would never come, because it would always fall on Tax Filing Deadline Day, which would mean ... oh, never mind.

The cute thing is that even the IRS got its own filing deadline day wrong.

I know. The IRS make a mistake? Noooo. But it's true.

In the Question and Answer section of its Web site, the IRS addresses the issue:

Q. My IRS tax instructions say I should file by April 16, 2007. Is this correct?

A. This is not correct. At the time these instructions were approved for printing, IRS believed it was correct. Thus, any IRS form, instruction or publication that currently shows an "April 16, 2007" due date should now be read as "April 17, 2007."

Fortunately for us, the IRS never has been an agency that shies away from making an explanation 20 times longer than it needs to be.:

"By law, filing and payment deadlines that fall on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday are timely satisfied if met on the next business day. Under a federal statute enacted decades ago, holidays observed in the District of Columbia have an impact nationwide, not just in D.C. Under recently enacted city legislation, April 16 is a holiday in the District of Columbia. The IRS recently became aware of the intersection of the national filing day and the local observance of the new Emancipation Day holiday after most forms and publications for the current tax filing season went to print. Individuals in the District of Columbia, as well as in six eastern states, already had an April 17 filing date prior to this announcement because they are served by an IRS processing facility in Massachusetts, where Patriots Day will be observed on April 16. These individuals are still required to file on April 17."

Got that?

No wonder nothing in the tax code makes sense. Call up the IRS and ask them what time it is, and you better be prepared to spend 90 minutes on the phone.

But be honest, you laughed harder at the official IRS explanation than you did at any other part of this column. Especially when you got to the word "intersection." I feel defeated. I shouldn't be writing a humor column, I should just be cutting and pasting large blocks of IRS help-brochures.

Which I would be perfectly willing to do for my next column, except that my deadline falls on Kindergarten Day in Germany, so I plan to be off.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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