Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Photo: AP) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Photo: AP)

The U.S. Treasury is considering extending the April 15 tax filing deadline for certain taxpayers and small businesses because of economic disruptions caused by the the coronavirus outbreak, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He testified before the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday morning.

“We think we can provide over $200 billion of liquidity into the economy by delaying certain tax payments,” said Mnuchin, who was quoted by The Wall Street Journal. “This we can do on an administrative basis,” he said. “We don’t need Congress.”

On Tuesday evening the Journal, citing an administration official and another person familiar with the matter, reported that Treasury was considering extending the tax deadline for individuals and businesses.

At this point it’s not known who would qualify for the extension, whether the administration will choose instead to waive penalties on tax filings after April 15, or when the Treasury will make its decision.

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, meanwhile, asked IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on Tuesday for an update on the impact of the coronavirus’ spread on the tax filing season, noting  “the IRS has authority to extend the time for filing any return for six months or less and the authority to waive certain penalties upon a showing of reasonable cause.”

“We are concerned about the ability of the I.R.S. to provide taxpayer assistance and process returns, as well as the ability of taxpayers, free tax preparation sites, and tax professionals to meet the filing deadline,” the lawmakers wrote.

The committee members also asked the IRS commissioner to consider the need for relief from certain filing and payment penalties for taxpayers and communities affected by the coronavirus.

Mnuchin is reportedly in talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about a package of options for stimulating the economy, which has been hurt as activity slows due to the spread of the virus.

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