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IRS defers 2020 tax payments by 90 days due to coronavirus

March 17, 2020, 5:00 PM UTC

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The IRS hasn’t yet extended the deadline to file your taxes, but you do have a lot more time to pay them.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking at a coronavirus news conference Tuesday, said the government is deferring $300 billion in IRS payments by 90 days, penalty-free.

“If you owe a payment to the IRS, you can defer up to $1 million as an individual,” Mnuchin said. Businesses can defer up to $10 million in payments.

Officials are still urging people to file by April 15, especially if they are expecting a refund. In the same press conference, Mnuchin said the Trump administration wants to get cash payouts to Americans unrelated to taxes within the next two weeks.

The move comes as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to spread and government officials urge people to practice social isolation. It’s also a move meant to protect IRS employees, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against gatherings of groups of 50 or more.

The call to extend the tax deadline started early in the coronavirus outbreak. In an Oval Office address to the nation on March 11, President Donald Trump said he had asked the Treasury department to extend the filing season deadline, but no additional information had been made available since that time.

Tax professionals have also been critical of the IRS’s delay in announcing a date.

“The AICPA appreciates the efforts being made by the Treasury Department and IRS to provide relief to the taxpaying public,” said Edward Karl, vice president of tax policy and advocacy at the American Institute of CPAs in a March 13 statement. “However, in light of the uncertainty and challenges caused by the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are disappointed that the Treasury Department and IRS have yet to make an announcement on how relief would help millions of individuals and businesses, and to the CPAs who advise them.”

The IRS is already processing some tax returns. Tax season officially began Jan. 27.

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