Seeking new ways to encourage taxpayers to file their returns electronically, the House of Representatives on Thursday voted 252-170 to pass a bill that would change the deadline for filing annual individual income tax returns from April 15 to April 30. The catch is, the returns have to be filed electronically in order to take advantage of the new deadline.
Lawyers and accountants have voiced opposition to the measure, indicating their concern that changing the date will only confuse taxpayers. "April 15 is ingrained in our national psyche," said William Stromsem, director of taxes at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Congress has given the IRS a mandate that 80% of individual income tax returns need to be filed electronically by 2007. Offering a later due date for electronic filers might help the IRS meet that goal by providing incentive for more taxpayers to file electronically.
Tax professionals have suggested that Congress instead offer to allow taxpayers until April 30 to pay their taxes but still require that the actual tax returns be submitted by April 15.
The bill also provides for a number of other measures, including a waiver of certain penalties for first-time minor errors involved with filing tax returns or payment of taxes, and an authorization of a study to investigate the practicality of recording liens and levying against property in cases in which the cost of such actions exceeds the amount to be realized from such property.
The bill, H.R. 1528, known as the Taxpayer Protection and IRS Accountability Act of 2003, now heads for the Senate where it must also be approved before it can be signed into law.