Fact check: The deadline to file 2020 federal taxes was extended to May 17

The claim: The deadline to file taxes is April 18

An image that was originally uploaded to Facebook in 2018 has suddenly gone viral and it is misleading users about this year’s deadline to file federal taxes. 

The image has a cartoon-style drawing of girl with two text bubbles: “The tax deadline is April 18th” and “Do your taxes soon.”

The post already has 16,000 shares and nearly 700 reactions. USA TODAY reached out to the user for a comment. 

Extended deadline

On March 17, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced that the due date for individuals filing federal income taxes for the 2020 tax year has been extended to May 17.

“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,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Last year, the agency also extended the deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving taxpayers until July 15 to file.

The post, which was made in 2018, would have also been incorrect for that year. In 2018, the deadline was April 17, according to an announcement made in January of that year.

Generally, the deadline to file taxes is April 15, but according to the IRS site, Emancipation Day, April 16,  – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia –  affects the filing deadlines. When the holiday falls on a Saturday, then April 15 is the observed date and taxes have to be filed by Monday, April 18. If it falls on a Sunday, then Monday, April 17 is the observed date and tax returns are due on Tuesday, April 18. If it falls on a Monday, that’s the holiday and taxes have to be filed by Tuesday, April 17.

This year taxpayers in Texas, Oklahoma or Louisiana have a longer deadline after FEMA issued major disaster declarations due to severe winter weather. Their new deadline is June 15.

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Our rating: False

The claim that the deadline to file federal taxes this year is April 18 is FALSE, based on our research. The IRS extended the deadline this year for most individual taxpayers to May 17 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and until June 15 for taxpayers in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Our fact-check sources:

  • IRS, March 17, “Tax Day for individuals extended to May 17: Treasury, IRS extend filing and payment deadline”
  • IRS, March 21, 2020, “Filing and Payment Deadline Extended to July 15, 2020 – Updated Statement”
  • IRS, Jan. 4, 2018, “2018 Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 29, Tax Returns Due April 17; Help Available for Taxpayers”
  • IRS, March 7, 2011, Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2011-10
  • FEMA, Feb. 20, “FEMA Responds to Severe Winter Weather in the Southeast”
  • DC.gov, accessed April 5, DC Emancipation Day

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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