Unlike most other years, instead of April 15th, this year’s individual tax deadline falls on April 18th. “Well, if the 15th falls on a weekend, it makes sense to move it.” But the 15th is a Saturday this year, so wouldn’t that make April 17th, the following Monday, the new tax day? Nope, not Monday either. That’s because on Monday, April 17th, Washington D.C. will observe Emancipation Day.
Technically, Emancipation Day falls on the 16th of the month, but since it is a legal holiday in D.C. and falls on a Sunday this year, Emancipation Day is officially marked on Monday, the 17th. Government offices and some private businesses will be closed in honor of the holiday, and poor little tax day gets bumped once more.
Emancipation Day is a District of Columbia holiday celebrating the anniversary of the Compensated Emancipation Act on April 16th, 1862. Signed by President Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Act freed several thousand slaves in the District of Columbia through monetary compensation paid to the former owners.
Emancipation Day doesn’t have anything to do with Lincoln’s famous Emancipation Proclamation though. It’s easy to conflate the two, but the Proclamation came a year later and freed slaves residing in 10 rebellion states, without compensation for their owners. Interestingly, that act did not free slaves in other states, including four Union states – but this is a tax blog, not a history blog; you can read more about that topic on your own.
Since the IRS headquarters resides in D.C. and will be closed on Monday, Emancipation Day gives all American taxpayers a bit more time to file federal taxes this year. Interestingly, this isn’t the only local holiday that has postponed the tax deadline for some. Last year some lucky filers got yet another reprieve. Maine and Massachusetts celebrate Patriots’ Day to commemorate the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were, as you know, the kickoff to the Revolutionary War in 1775. Since the official holiday was on Monday, April 18th in 2016, residents in both states didn’t have to file their taxes until the 19th, while the rest of us had to meet the April 18th deadline (late because of D.C.’s Emancipation Day celebration on the previous Friday, which would normally have been tax day). Simple, right?
Now, you not only have a couple extra days to fill out and submit your tax forms, you’ve also learned a little something to impress your team next time you battle it out in bar trivia. Happy Emancipation and Patriots’ Days everyone!