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Trump administration weighs delaying tax deadline amid virus outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is working on plans to delay the April 15 federal tax deadline for some taxpayers in a bid to soften the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the U.S. economy.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress on Wednesday that the administration is looking to provide relief for most individual taxpayers as well as small businesses.

Mnuchin said the administration believes a payment delay would have the effect of putting more than $200 billion back into the economy that would otherwise go to paying taxes next month. He did not indicate what the new deadline would be.

Mnuchin later told reporters that the delay would cover “virtually all Americans other than the super rich.”

He said that the delay would not apply to large corporation or very wealthy taxpayers but he did not offer any specific income or asset thresholds that would be needed to qualify for the delay.

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Mnuchin told a House Appropriations subcommittee that the administration could grant the tax delay without having to go to Congress for approval.

He said Treasury will recommend to President Donald Trump that he approve the delay and that a formal announcement should come soon.

Mnuchin said the delay would allow individuals to not pay their taxes by the April 15 deadline. The IRS would also waive interest payments or other penalties for missing the deadline.

Under current IRS rules, taxpayers can get an automatic extension on filing their tax return but they are required to pay tax on the estimated amount they will owe when they do file.

Members of Congress have urged the administration to take this step amid the coronavirus crisis.

“Given the growing nationwide concerns regarding the potential spread and the resulting economic and public health impact of such an outbreak, we urge you to act quickly and remove one source of stress that individuals face during the crisis,” Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

“The American people should not have to worry about filing IRS forms in the middle of a public health emergency,” the two senators wrote.