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WASHINGTON (AP) — Taxpayers nationwide will get a few days' grace this year to file their returns thanks to a little-known holiday in the nation's capital. And the head of the IRS promises 1,000 more customer services representatives will be available to ease waiting times on information lines.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday that taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their returns. That's because Friday, April 15 is Emancipation Day, a public holiday in Washington D.C. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts will have an additional day because of Patriot's Day.
Filing season opens Jan. 19, Koskinen said.
Koskinen said $290 million approved by Congress last month to improve taxpayer services will ease some — but by no means all — of the problems with hang-ups when calling IRS information lines. Last year, fewer than half of all calls were connected to a staff person. Information is also available online.
"Using our website, IRS.gov, remains the best and quickest way for people to get information," Koskinen said.
Koskinen also warned about common phone scams in which a caller impersonates an IRS employee in hopes of obtaining personal or financial information from unwitting people or demand payment. The IRS doesn't call taxpayers, Koskinen said. It instead issues letters.
"The IRS will not make angry calls to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed out a bill," Koskinen told reporters. "We won't ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. We also will never threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have someone arrested for not paying."
More than four of five tax returns will be filed electronically.