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Our second tax season in the age of COVID has all of the chaos, questions, and rough edges as the first. Maybe more.

Already off to a late and notably slow start, this year’s busy season is lurching along with one key question still unanswered: Will the tax filing and payment deadlines be extended for a second consecutive year?

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot provided a partial answer on March 11 when he extended Maryland’s income tax filing deadline by three months, until July 15. The reason is mainly related to new COVID-19 relief that has been enacted at the state and federal levels. In Maryland, passage of the RELIEF Act in February required extensive revisions to previously released forms and software programs used by tax filers and tax software vendors. At the federal level, the passage of a third stimulus package necessitates more changes to federal and state forms.

“We’ve never before seen so many changes to the current year’s tax code in the midst of the tax filing season,” Franchot said. “We’re realistic about the burden this puts on taxpayers, tax preparers and our staff, which is why I’m taking this emergency action to extend the tax filing deadline to July 15.”

Officials with the Comptroller’s Office are asking tax practitioners to wait to submit further returns until new state forms and filing instructions have been released.

At the federal level, momentum for extending the filing deadline continues to build among lawmakers and other groups — even as tax preparers remain divided on the issue.

In response to an MACPA request, U.S. Rep​. Jamie Raskin, who represents Maryland’s 8th District, and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., who chairs the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, ​are circulat​ing ​a “sign-on letter” for other members of Congress to join them in urging IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur​ to extend the April 15 tax filing and payment deadline.

States usually follow the IRS’s lead in these matters. This year, we’re waiting to find out if the tables will be turned. Time will tell.

In the meantime, the smart move is to keep an eye on the MACPA’s State and Federal Tax Communities for updates. We’ll keep you posted as developments warrant.

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