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COVID-19

How does an extra 90 days to pay taxes help Americans?

David Brancaccio Mar 18, 2020
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Scott Olson/Getty Images
COVID-19

How does an extra 90 days to pay taxes help Americans?

David Brancaccio Mar 18, 2020
Scott Olson/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

You still have to file your taxes by Wednesday, April 15, but if you owe money to the federal government, you don’t have to pay until mid-July.

Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin announced this to keep an estimated $300 billion in liquidity circulating to counteract the economic drag of COVID-19. It’s a penalty-free, interest-free delay.

George Smith, a certified public accountant with Andrews Hooper Pavlik near Detroit, explained how this will work and how it’s going to help his clients. Below is an edited transcript of his conversation with David Brancaccio.

George Smith: The due date is still a hard due date at this time, as far as we know, but there is an extension of time to pay any tax obligations.

David Brancaccio: Do you think this postponement will help any of your clients as a practical matter?

Smith: Most definitely. I think we have two categories of clients we’re going to deal with here: those who have regretfully lost their jobs due to layoffs. The obligation to pay your 2019 taxes does not go away regardless of circumstances. So, in light of that, it at least gives them a 90-day window with or without employment to perhaps come up with a game plan.

The other group that I see are recent retirees who have recognized a lot of capital gains because the market was way up in 2019. Now they’re paying taxes on those gains from a portfolio that has diminished some 30% in value. So they will be paying higher taxes with, in essence, lower-value money. I mean, again, this gives 90 days, perhaps, for the stock market to somewhat recover, too. And there’s a lot of concerns here, too.

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