In an interview Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gave credence to the possibility that this year's tax filing deadline, which was postponed to July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, might be pushed back still further.
To be clear, Mnuchin reiterated that as things stand now, July 15 will still be the last day for Americans to file their taxes on time or request an extension from the IRS. However, his comments show that there are genuine concerns that the economy, personal finance, and the pandemic may require the government to adjust. In states across the country, and particularly in the South and West, the numbers of newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 have risen sharply to new highs over the course of the last two weeks. Despite major declines in states that were early hot spots, diagnoses in the U.S. overall have been on the rise, and on Tuesday, the daily diagnosis total was just shy of the country's previous worst daily total of the pandemic, which came on April 24.
One has to wonder how much of a contributing factor the pandemic's resurgence was to Mnuchin's suggestion that this year's tax deadline could be moved to Sept. 15.
The rise of the coronavirus globally and the impact of U.S. efforts to stem its growth here turned the country's April tax tradition upside down. The delayed deadlines were just one piece of a far broader attempt to stave off the financial hardships that impacted U.S. citizens as much of the economy was shut down.
Overall, another postponement of the tax deadline would be far from the most aggressive move that Washington has made this year. Given that the CARES Act provided more than $2 billion of stimulus for the economy, including more than $200 billion in direct payments to individuals, nothing seems off the table. Many politicians, economists, and pundits have asserted that a second round of stimulus checks will be needed, but getting another major bill through Congress will be much harder than moving tax day back a few more months.
If the numbers of new COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and the U.S. economy runs into more obstacles en route back to pre-pandemic levels of activity, it would not be hard to imagine the government choosing to make taxes more manageable for workers. Much will depend on how the course of the country's health crisis progresses from here.