Lawmaker Suggests Moving Tax Deadline Closer to Election Day

Tax Day can be painful, but Rep. Roscoe Bartlett doesn't think it's painful enough for politicians.

That's why the Maryland Republican is introducing a bill to move the tax filing deadline from April 15 to the first Monday in November, the day before Election Day.

He thinks that the change would help people realize what their taxes are paying for and encourage more of them to vote -- and to vote differently.

"This is just an obvious thing, a very simple thing," Bartlett said last week. It is the second time Bartlett has tried to make the change -- an identical bill died in the last Congress.

Right now the filing deadline and Election Day are almost as far apart as possible, Bartlett said, and by the time people vote, they probably do not remember how much they paid in taxes.

Moving the dates closer together would make voters more aware of the price they pay for government services, said Dan Clifton, spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform.

It would also make people realize they have the power to affect where their money goes, said Edward L. Hudgins, Washington director of the Objectivist Center.

Moving the deadline would "remind voters that they are taxpayers who suffer under heavy burdens, and taxpayers that they are voters who can remedy their situation," he said.

Anthony Burke, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, said the agency does not comment on pending legislation.

Burke did say that the tax filing deadline was changed in 1955 from March 15 to April 15, but he did not know the reason for the change.

Tax reform groups said changing the date to November would be a logical move.

"Purchasing on Election Day and paying for it on April 15th is like purchasing the government on a credit card," said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform.

Bartlett said that he thinks most people do not realize how much of their tax money goes to support programs that the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to provide. Holding a pocket-sized version of the Constitution, he said that most of the things lawmakers spend taxpayers' money on cannot be found in the document -- even obvious benefits like public schools.

"My hope is they will vote more responsibly," if they vote right after paying taxes, he said.

Bartlett said he already has 20 cosponsors for his bill and is confident he can win enough support to get it through the House, unlike last time.