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Oregon Delays Personal Income Tax Deadline Until July

<p>This July 24, 2018, file photo shows a portion of the 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form. The Trump administration is working on plans to delay the April 15 federal tax deadline for most individual taxpayers as well as small businesses. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, that the administration is "looking at providing relief to certain taxpayers and small businesses who will be able to get extensions on their taxes."&nbsp;</p>

This July 24, 2018, file photo shows a portion of the 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form. The Trump administration is working on plans to delay the April 15 federal tax deadline for most individual taxpayers as well as small businesses. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, that the administration is "looking at providing relief to certain taxpayers and small businesses who will be able to get extensions on their taxes." 

Oregonians who’ve delayed filing their personal income taxes suddenly have one less urgent item on their to-do list.

Less than a month before the state’s usual filing deadline, Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday she is pushing back the due date for personal and corporate income tax filings in the state. In step with a similar move from the federal government, those filings are now due July 15, months after the usual April 15 deadline.

“We have agreed to allow extensions,” Brown told reporters Wednesday, noting that corporations and others making estimated tax filings for the current tax year must still pay by April 15.

"The governor’s state-declared emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the action of the IRS will impair the ability of Oregon taxpayers to take certain actions within the time prescribed by law," said an announcement from the Oregon Department of Revenue. "Therefore, the director has ordered an automatic extension of the 2019 tax year filing and payment due dates." 

The later deadline is not unexpected, given the fact that Oregon often moves in lockstep with federal tax decisions. The move is designed to give taxpayers a bit more stability as the economy continues to slide, but it could create difficulties at a time the state is preparing to pass a big relief package for Oregonians impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Lawmakers in recent days have voiced concern that a delay in the tax deadline could deprive the state of hundreds of millions of dollars in the short term — money that Oregon might wind up having to borrow instead.

State Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, a co-chair of the state’s budget committee, estimated the move could create a short term hit of between $300 million to $500 million, roughly the amount the state expects to bring in from personal income tax filings.

“This is not as easy a decision as it might seem to most of us,” Steiner Hayward said Tuesday.

Brown on Wednesday said that Oregon is currently in a “quadruple bind,” caught between anticipated declining revenues, the expenses of a public health response, new strain on the social safety net as people can’t work and a requirement to balance the state budget.

While the governor has shuttered some state operations to stem the spread of the coronavirus, she hasn’t taken more concrete steps such as a temporary government hiring freeze in order to save costs.

Brown said Wednesday that there is “no state travel happening right now. I anticipate we will be focused in the next several weeks on other specific steps that we can take.”

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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Dirk VanderHart is JPR's Salem correspondent reporting from the Oregon State Capitol. His reporting is funded through a collaboration between public radio stations around the Northwest called the Northwest News Network.