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Press Release


Study: Moving Tax Day Nearer to Election Day Will Benefit Taxpayers, Won't Burden Government

For Immediate Release April 13, 2007
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700

(Alexandria, VA) -- Better fiscal policy and more civic participation are just two reasons why Congress should move the federal tax filing deadline to the day before the November election, according to a study from the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). The non-partisan citizen group's analysis examined past history, reviewed the current political climate, and calculated future costs to conclude that linking Tax Day to Election Day is both feasible and desirable.

"Moving Tax Day closer to Election Day is a reform citizens of all viewpoints should applaud, as it would invigorate a meaningful debate over national priorities," said NTU Senior Government Affairs Manager and study author Kristina Rasmussen. "The passage of time between dropping a return in the mailbox and dropping a vote card in the ballot box gives lawmakers a buffer to both wait out public discontent with fiscal policy and fail to follow up on campaign promises."

Congressional support for moving Tax Filing Day comes from Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), whose legislation (H.R. 77) proposes moving the deadline for income tax returns from April 15 to the first Monday in November (which in even-numbered years is the day before a federal election). Through exhaustive research, Rasmussen explains how and why this change should be implemented:

  • History. Some consider April 15 a tax date etched in stone, when in fact the deadline was a month earlier until 1955. More recently, the IRS's Taxpayer Advocate recommended moving Tax Day one month forward for certain business filers.
  • Federal Costs. Using data from events such as the "Y2K" computer conversion, previous IRS notification efforts for last-minute tax law changes, and employee retraining, Rasmussen calculated that an April 15 date shift would cost a maximum of $2.04 billion -- or, less than one-fifth of the IRS's current budget.
  • State Costs. Using her federal cost projections, Rasmussen examined state tax agency budgets and determined that transition costs would run under $1 billion at that level.
  • Transition. If the move took place between 2008 and 2009, taxpayers could file returns by April 15, 2008 and then not be required to file again until November 2009. The extra seven months would give time for the government and individuals to effect the change, much as the "Transition Quarter" did when the federal government's Fiscal Year cycle shifted in 1976. Withholding will continue to provide receipts during the entire period, while some taxpayers may earn extra interest on their money.

The public benefit of moving Tax Day closer to Election Day would be, according to Rasmussen, "a stronger connection between policy outcomes and political decisions." Furthermore, civic participation and voting could both improve, since financial concerns would be much nearer in the minds of citizens who might otherwise not take an interest. "The government may try to influence our behavior through the Tax Code, but it is high time voters influence the government's behavior, Rasmussen concluded. "'Voting our pocketbooks' could take on a whole other meaning."

NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group working for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: NTU Issue Brief 162, Tax Time Should Be Election Time: Moving Tax Filing Day Closer to Election Day, is available online at www.ntu.org.

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