Table of contents
Still rifling through a pile of the past year’s receipts? Welcome to America’s annual financial headache. It’s Tax Day, May 17 — and the Internal Revenue Service’s patience has just run out. Unless you’re due for a hefty refund (or working as a highly-paid accountant), Tax Day doesn’t usually spark much joy. Although Form 1040 appears shorter nowadays, filing taxes remains way too complicated for most Americans to do alone. It wasn’t always this way. The IRS didn’t appear on the scene until 1862. That’s when the federal government began “to assess, levy, and collect taxes through its power to seize property and income.” Still struggling? You can always look into filing an extension to get some extra time.
Tax Day timeline
The first estate tax is enacted to fund the U.S. Navy.
Abraham Lincoln signs into law the first-ever income tax during the ongoing Civil War.
Sales taxes are first enacted in West Virginia.
Individual income taxes become the primary source of revenue for the U.S. government.
Tax Day Media Coverage
How to Observe Tax Day
Break out the 'income tax' cocktail
This is a real drink — basically a Bronx cocktail (gin, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and orange juice) with a splash of bitters, as a nod to the bittersweet nature of the day.
Host a tax potluck party
Friends don't let friends do taxes alone. Why not make a party of it instead? And as you work through all the forms, you can give awards for the most creative deductions or person with the biggest return coming their way.
Make a vow to start earlier next year
That way you'll have more time to spend the day doing laundry, watching TV, or hanging out with friends.
Why Tax Day is Important
It's a forced financial check-up
W-2s and 1099s. Banking statements and donation receipts. There's a lot of paperwork you need to pull together to be able to do your taxes (even if you have help). But once it's all there, you can see how much you made last year and where the money went.
One word: deductions
You start to see the different ways you can get money back — like mortgage interest, donations, and even unreimbursed job-related education. Once you figure out a strategy, you can start planning for the next tax year.
If you overpaid last year, you're due for a tax refund. If not, perhaps it's time to adjust your withholding (or estimated tax payments).
Tax Day dates
Tax Day Featured Videos
Why and How to File A Tax Extension
That Feeling When You Finish Your Taxes