Americans who think of April 15 as T-Day can thank Washington, D.C., this year for extending the traditional tax-filing deadline to April 17. There’s an interesting and in some ways ironic story here.
Normally, when April 15 falls on a Sunday, as it does this time, taxpayers are given a one-day reprieve. But this year’s grace day, April 16, happens to fall on Emancipation Day, an observance that became a holiday in the District of Columbia in 2005. By federal law, any holiday celebrated in the district has the same impact on tax deadlines as federal holidays.
The reason that Emancipation Day has achieved holiday status in district is because that is where President Abraham Lincoln made slaves living in the district the nation’s “First Freed,” signing the Compensated Emancipation Act nine months before issuing his historic Emancipation Proclamation.
The ironic aspect of Washington’s impact on the delayed tax-filing deadline is that the district does not have a voting representative in Congress, which has long been a sore point for residents. After all, it was the whole notion of “no taxation without representation” that fueled the Colonists anger over tariffs, led to the Boston Tea Party protest in 1773, and ultimately sparked the Revolutionary War.
Americans have been tax-averse ever since, and it took the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1913 after four years by the requisite 36 states, to make an income tax a permanent fixture of the US system.