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|D.C. Emancipation Day Gives U.S. Taxpayers More Time to File|
America has extra time to file taxes this year. You can thank D.C. for that.
By Perry Stein April 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM
D.C. Mayor Muriel E Bowser (D) arrives Saturday at the Emancipation Day festival on Pennsylvania Avenue across from City Hall in Washington. (J. Lawler Duggan for The Washington Post)
The rest of the country this year once again has an opportunity to learn about D.C. Emancipation Day — a holiday little known beyond the District that marks the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the nation’s capital.
The holiday, which shuts down city government, will be observed this year on April 17, the Monday after April 15, the typical deadline for filing taxes. Because of the conjunction, the entire country gets a one-day reprieve on filing 2016 tax returns, making the official tax filing deadline Tuesday, April 18.
Emancipation Day usually is celebrated April 16, the date in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed about 3,100 slaves living in the District.
But this year, April 16 falls on a Sunday, so the District will celebrate the holiday the following day. D.C. holidays are treated as federal holidays for tax-filing purposes, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
That pushes the official tax-filing deadline to the next business day, April 18. And, everyone — residents of Florida, California and everywhere in between — will receive an extension, not just D.C. residents.
“When April 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, a return is considered timely filed if it is filed on the next succeeding day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday,” IRS spokesman Ubon Mendie said in an email last year. “The term ‘legal holiday’ includes a legal holiday observed in the District of Columbia.”
In 2016, the country had a three-day reprieve on filing taxes because April 16 fell on a Saturday, so the District celebrated the holiday on April 15, a Friday. That moved the tax filing deadline to Monday, April 18.
The country had a similar reprieve in 2007 because of Emancipation Day.
D.C. government shuts down for Emancipation Day, although the federal government and most businesses in the city remain open. In 2000, then-D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) prepared legislation — which the council passed unanimously and then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) signed — declaring April 16 D.C. Emancipation Day, a legal “private” holiday. The day was officially observed for the first time as a public holiday, one that closed the city government, in 2005.
The holiday is marked by a parade in which city leaders and schoolchildren march along Pennsylvania Avenue. This year, the rest of the country also might learn about the District holiday.
This story was adapted from a story that initially published in April 2016.