Tax Time Comes with a Complicated Calendar
||Washington Post (DC)
||Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Each year in the District, a few things are sure to happen on Tax Day. Local residents will scramble to finish their returns, long lines will form at post offices, and a variety of groups will use the occasion to stage protests and rallies decrying the government’s annual bite out of every American’s financial apple.
This year, the last-minute filings will happen like clockwork but the rallies won’t. At least they won’t all happen on the same day. That’s because Tax Day this year falls on Monday, April 18. But most anti-tax events — in the District and around the country — are still slated for the traditional date of April 15, partly because old habits are hard to break.
“The 18th is wrong,” said Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. “It’s like moving Christmas or something.”
The Internal Revenue Service moved Tax Day to April 18 this year because of a conflict directly affecting only a fraction of taxpayers.
Every year on April 16, the District celebrates Emancipation Day to mark the date in 1862 when slaves in the city were freed. But because April 16 is a Saturday this year, the holiday will be observed on April 15. So Tax Day was moved back to Monday, because the IRS observes D.C. holidays as it does federal holidays. (Things would get even more complicated if the IRS also observed Jewish holidays, since Passover begins at sundown April 18.)
Congress — the primary audience for anti-tax demonstrations — does not follow the same calendar as the IRS, and the House and Senate are scheduled to be in session April 15 but out of session the week of April 18. So what’s the point of having a rally in the nation’s capital if the people who write the nation’s tax laws won’t be there to see it?
In Washington, DC Vote — which advocates for the District to have voting rights in Congress — has long used Tax Day as a stage for protests. In the past, the group has burned tax forms and held events outside post offices to highlight the District’s plight.
This year, said spokeswoman Leah Ramsey, “DC Vote is planning a more aggressive, direct action than events we have held in previous years,” though the group is not yet releasing details of its plans.
Ramsey said DC Vote is staging its “action” on April 15 “to tie in our paying taxes with D.C. Emancipation Day, because D.C. residents are still not fully emancipated after all these years.”
Beyond the symbolism or the tradition, there is a practical reason some groups may not want to schedule events on April 18 this year: Potential attendees will be scrambling to finish their tax returns.
“I think at that point people are going to be at crunch time if they haven’t done their taxes,” Lewandowski said. “Well let’s hope they’ve got them done by the 18th. Otherwise they’re going to be in trouble.”