I worry, but I take comfort in the strength I’ve seen throughout my community. I have been nothing but impressed with the swiftness with which school systems and businesses found ways to carry on their missions. For schools this included measures to continue free meal programs, and distribute technology. Businesses found ways to serve their clients uninterrupted, switching to cloud resources. Those remote and digital capabilities which were an optional productivity tools for many, have now become necessary and essential.
On March 13, 2020 President Trump declared a Federal disaster under the Stafford Act and instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to provide relief from tax deadlines. The original notice waived penalties and extended the time to pay federal income taxes from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. But the mechanics of this were confusing, did people still have to file by April 15? Next, they extended the time to file to July 15, and other deadlines followed. Other changes followed as well. It became a struggle to provide clients with the most recent information because the information seemed to change twice a day.
Like all of us, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) made adjustments to their operations in light of COVID-19, and suspended operations at most processing centers. They also suspended most collection activity, and put payment arrangements on hold. Only a small percentage of IRS employees can work remotely, and you can be sure that there is a new urgency to develop the agencies digital capabilities.
What does this mean for filing our 2019 taxes? First, you can file now to claim your refund. If you have additional taxes to pay, filing now will give you time to plan your payment. Second, if you need more time, you have it, no other action required. If you can’t file by July 15th, you can still apply for an extension and file by October 15, 2020. Finally, you have until July 15 to fund your Individual Retirement Account (IRA). One unexpected surprise, the deadline to file for a refund for 2016 taxes has also been extended to July 15.
Professionally, I miss face to face meetings the most. But, that doesn’t mean our mission stops. Family and community are the most important factors in our lives, and we are committed to taking care of both. Even if we can’t meet over coffee, we can work remotely to strategize, answer questions, sign documents, and build on the relationships we all cherish.
Will I still worry? Yes, but not about taxes. For everything else, we will take care of each other and find our way.