Ben Franklin is credited with the classic saying “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” While taxes are certainly coming due in the future, one of the striking moments of the COVID-19 pandemic came and went yesterday as April 15 passed without federal taxes coming due.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, they are still certain. They are just certain later. Specifically they are due on July 15. Or maybe I should say that we think they are due on July 15 right now. Like everything else in pandemic life, I’m sure that deadline could also change. After all, for a few days in March the date taxes were due wasn’t certain at all.
Yet another quirk of pandemic life, apparently. Sara Morrison at Recode sums up the confusion well in this article:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the change on March 20 on Twitter. The IRS followed up and tacitly confirmed the new deadline, oddly enough, by retweeting Mnuchin and adding slightly more context.
The news came days after Mnuchin very publicly declared at a White House press conference that taxpayers would have to file by April 15, though they could put off paying any taxes they owed for up to 90 days after the deadline without incurring interest or being penalized. Now, according to Mnuchin’s latest statement, taxpayers can put off filing for up to 90 days as well.
Although the timing of these announcements is a bit confusing, the news isn’t much of a surprise. Mnuchin did say on March 11 that he was recommending pushing the deadline back.
The back and forth here is reminiscent of the should you/shouldn’t you wear a mask advice I wrote about on April 7.
In fact, the uncertainty of everything in coronavirus reality is one of the hardest things to deal with each day. Will the President order that the country be reopened on May 1? Who knows — after all, he said the same thing about Easter. State governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo are already stating that they won’t open on May 1 regardless of that order. Cuomo extended New York state’s stay at home order to May 15. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s current stay at home order expires on April 30, but he’s indicated it could be extended.
Living in a prolonged state of emergency and uncertainty has been surreal in Chicago and across the country. I never thought I’d see the day where even taxes are uncertain.