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Feds mull tax deadline extension as coronavirus spreads

The Trump administration may direct the Internal Revenue Service to delay the April 15 tax filing deadline as part of the U.S. government’s efforts to ease the economic impact of the novel coronavirus, an administration official told CBS News.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed in testimony Wednesday to the House Committee on Appropriations that he is considering “providing substantial relief to certain taxpayers” and giving extensions on tax filings, a move Mnuchin said would inject the equivalent of $ 200 billion into the U.S. economy.

The Treasury chief’s remarks came a day after some Democrats in Congress urged the IRS to consider a filing delay given the possibility of disruption from the outbreak.

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“[W]e are concerned about the ability of the IRS to provide taxpayer assistance and process returns, as well as the ability of taxpayers, free tax-preparation sites, and tax professionals to meet the filing deadline,” members of the House Ways and Means Committee wrote in a letter on Tuesday.

The agency has previously pushed back the tax filing deadline, including two years ago when the website to make payments suffered multiple outages hours before the deadline. The legislators noted in their letter Tuesday that the IRS already has authority to extend filing deadlines by up to six months, as well as to waive penalties.

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So far this year, tax return filings have run mostly on schedule. The IRS had received 59 million tax returns as of the end of February, the same number as it had this time last year. That’s just over a third of all the returns the agency expects to process this filing season.

However, the spreading coronavirus could disrupt tax season, as many Americans rely on IRS field offices and volunteer centers for help with their filings.

The White House has also floated a number of possible measures to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus, including a temporary payroll tax cut.

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