The Internal Revenue Service has published a notice to inform the public of the effect of Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia that is pushing back tax-filing day this year and in any future years when they coincide.

The IRS first announced in January that it would be pushing back the usual April 15 deadline this tax season to April 18 as a result of Emancipation Day falling on Friday, April 15 (see IRS Extends Tax-Filing Deadline to April 18). On Thursday, the IRS issued Notice 2011-17, which explains what happens when the two days bump into each other.

Section 6072(a) of the Tax Code imposes a deadline of April 15 for filing income tax returns, the IRS noted.  When April 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, a return is considered timely filed if filed on the next succeeding day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday in the District of Columbia.  Under District of Columbia law, Emancipation Day, which is normally April 16, is a legal holiday. 

When April 16 falls on a Saturday, however, the preceding day is the observed holiday, and when it falls on a Sunday, the succeeding day is the observed holiday. Thus, because Emancipation Day is a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, in certain years it will have implications for taxpayers nationwide with respect to the filing deadlines for all tax forms and payments required to be filed or completed on or before April 15, including the Form 1040 series tax returns, the IRS noted.

For taxpayers nationwide, when Emancipation Day, April 16, falls on a:

• Saturday:  Friday, April 15 is the observed date and the filing deadline for all tax forms and payments required to be filed or completed on or before April 15, is Monday, April 18.

• Sunday:  Monday, April 17 is the observed date and the filing deadline for all tax forms and payments required to be filed or completed on or before April 15, is Tuesday, April 18.

• Monday:  Monday, April 16 is the holiday and the filing deadline for all forms and payments required to be filed or completed on or before April 15, is Tuesday, April 17.

For example, in 2011, Emancipation Day falls on a Saturday, meaning that it will be observed on Friday, April 15, 2011.  The filing deadline for all tax forms and payments required to be filed or completed on or before April 15 (as described in Section 6072(a), including the Form 1040 series of returns) will be Monday, April 18, 2011. 

The IRS said it plans to widely publicize the rule in the new notice in affected years to remind the public that the filing deadline is extended.

Lincoln freed the slaves back on the original Emancipation Day on April 16, 1862, when he signed the Compensated Emancipation Act in Washington, D.C. But that doesn't mean the IRS is ready to emancipate taxpayers from the drudgery of doing their taxes (or paying tax practitioners to prepare their taxes for them). But at least the IRS is giving taxpayers a few extra days to procrastinate.