Gift Tax Returns Not Deferred

[3/27/2020 Update: Notice 2020-20 “amplifies” Notice 2020-18 and allows the same three month deferral for gift tax returns and gift tax payments that was provided by Notice 2020-18 for income tax returns and payments.]

As explained in an earlier posting, IRS Notice 2020-18 has deferred all income tax return filings and income tax payments until July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some practitioners have wondered if Notice 2020-18 also defers the due date for federal gift tax returns because they are also due on April 15 and an extension of time to file an income tax return also extends the time to file a gift tax return. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely, for two reasons:

  1. The notice itself is explicitly limited to federal income tax relief. It says that the relief that is provide is “solely” for federal income tax payments and “Federal income tax returns due on April 15, 2020, in respect of an Affected Taxpayer’s 2019 taxable year.” It also states that “No extension is provided in this notice for the payment or deposit of any other type of Federal tax, or for the filing of any Federal information return.”
  2. The statutory authority for the notice (20 U.S.C. § 7508A(a)) does not speak of “due dates” or “extensions” but allows the Secretary to “specify a period of up to 1 year that may be disregarded” in determining whether returns or payments were made within the time allowed, or in determining interest or penalties. So, technically speaking, the due date for income tax returns is still April 15 but the period from April 15 to July 15 is being disregarded.

Because of the absence of any certainty about the effect of the notice on gift tax returns, it is suggested that Form 8892 be filed if a gift tax return is required and can’t be filed by April 15. (It is also still possible to file a Form 4868 to get a six month extension of time to file both the federal income tax return and federal gift tax return.)

[3/24/2020 Update: The Internal Revenue Service has published a FAQ (“Filing and Payment Deadlines Questions and Answers“) that confirms that the time for filing gift tax returns and making gift tax payments has not be deferred. See Q7.]

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