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House Lawmakers Renew Push For Filing Season Extension

By David van den Berg · March 16, 2021, 6:14 PM EDT

A group of House lawmakers again Tuesday called on the IRS to extend the income tax filing and payment deadlines, saying more time is needed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the delayed filing season start and recent legislative changes.

The group of 104 lawmakers requested the deadline extensions in a letter to Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of the Treasury officials. They said, among other things, taxpayers would need more time to respond to a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act exempting $10,200 of unemployment compensation from tax for people with adjusted gross incomes below $150,000.

The representatives also said the extension was needed due to the limited availability of in-person tax help, noting that the IRS reports that it is answering just one of every four phone calls.

All but four of the lawmakers who signed the letter to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig and Mark Mazur, the acting Treasury assistant secretary for tax policy, were Democrats. Sixteen of the Democratic signatories were members of the House Ways and Means Committee, including Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey,  chairman of its oversight subcommittee.

The letter follows written requests from Pascrell for a filing season extension. He and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., previously demanded the IRS push back the deadlines in a statement earlier this month. A group of eight Ways and Means Democrats, including Pascrell, also sent Rettig a letter in February calling for an extension of the filing season. Six of the Ways and Means Democratic lawmakers who signed that letter, including Pascrell, signed Tuesday's letter.

"We write to urge you to extend the impending April 15th federal tax filing and payment deadline," the lawmakers wrote Tuesday. "Millions of stressed-out taxpayers, businesses and preparers would appreciate an extension of the deadline to file their 2020 returns."

Rettig is scheduled to testify at a virtual hearing of Pascrell's subcommittee on Thursday.

Rettig has said on multiple occasions that the IRS has no plans to extend the filing season, including during a conference earlier this month. He also told a House Appropriations subcommittee in February that the agency didn't see a need to extend the filing deadline.

At the conference, Rettig said many individuals had adjusted to the current environment, and extending the filing date confuses taxpayers. Extending the current filing season would also push one filing season into another, he said.

Ken Corbin, who serves both as the commissioner of the IRS' Wage and Investment Division and the agency's chief taxpayer experience officer, also told reporters in February the IRS didn't plan to extend the filing deadline.

The IRS and Treasury didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

The lawmakers seeking extended filing and payment deadlines aren't alone. The American Institute of CPAs has called for the deadlines to be postponed until June 15 to give taxpayers more time to report to the agency following challenges resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The CPA group issued a statement Tuesday responding to criticism of the idea of postponing the April 15 filing and payment deadlines. The organization said the IRS is overwhelmed in part because of the delayed start of the filing season and again cited pandemic-related difficulties for taxpayers.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has created immeasurable hardship for millions of taxpayers and tax practitioners, making it incredibly difficult for them to meet the April 15 filing and payment deadline," the organization said in its statement. "The IRS must not overlook the impact the pandemic has had on this year's tax filing season."

--Additional reporting by Theresa Schliep, Joshua Rosenberg and Dylan Moroses. Editing by Neil Cohen.

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