Tax Day 2011 has been put off. And that's no April Fool's joke.

Tax Day humor is not your standard April Fool's fare, but this year, a D.C. holiday called Emancipation Day is giving most Americans something to smile about: extra time to file.

Ann Hermes/Staff
Tax forms are put on display for passers by outside the IRS office in the JFK Federal Building in Boston on March 24. Americans will have until April 18 this year to file their tax forms, and that is no April Fool's joke.

The following is not an April Fool's joke: Americans will have an extra weekend to wrestle with their income tax forms this year, with a filing deadline of April 18.

The change comes because a weekend and a District of Columbia holiday stand in the way of the usual April 15 deadline.

This year, the nation's capital will celebrate Emancipation Day on Friday the 15th. (Normally that holiday falls on April 16, the anniversary of the day Abraham Lincoln signed an act freeing several thousand slaves in the District of Columbia, in 1862.) Then comes the weekend. Then on Monday income taxes for 2010 are due, whether they're sent by mail or electronic means.

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If this sounds like an unusual occurrence for US taxpayers, it is: Emancipation Day only became an official holiday in the district in 2005. In 2007, the holiday also gave tax filers a bit of extra time. Coincidentally, this year's emancipation factor comes as the nation marks 150 years since the Civil War began in 1861.

"By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do," the Internal Revenue Service said earlier this year. "Therefore, all taxpayers will have three extra days to file."

People who file for an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns, the IRS says.

The shift in the income tax deadline will also give taxpayers extra time to make a tax-deductible contribution to an IRA (individual retirement arrangement) account, attributable to the 2010 tax year. Remember to note "for 2010" when making the contribution to your account.

Most states are following the federal lead, and giving people until April 18 to file state returns and tax payments, according to information compiled by the makers of CrossLink, software used by tax professionals.

Here are the exceptions, as listed in the CrossLink information:

Tennessee is sticking with its usual deadline of April 15.

Maine and Massachusetts, which have a Patriot's Day holiday April 18, have state taxes due on April 19.

Hawaii gives residents until April 20 to file.

Delaware, Iowa, Virginia, and Louisiana have tax deadlines in May.

And of course some states have no income tax.

Tax Day 2011:

Part 1: When is the tax deadline? Hint: It's not April 15.

Part 2: What's new for homeowners?

Part 3: Checking on your refund? There's an IRS app for that.

Part 5: Schedule M could be worth up to $800

Part 6: Four ways to protect your tax returns from data thieves

Part 7: Last-minute tips to keep the Internal Revenue Service away

Part 8: Tax Day 2011: Why do presidents release tax returns? Hint: 'I am not a ...'


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