AUGUSTA – A number of deadlines have been extended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Treasury Department extends filing deadline for federal taxes
The Tax Filing Relief for America Act adjusted the deadline from from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Americans who would like to file early are still able to do so, and the Treasury Department is processing returns so taxpayers can get their money back in a rebate as soon as possible.
State extends registrations, provides means to postpone town meetings
On Tuesday, the Maine State Legislature passed a number of pieces of legislation aimed at providing municipalities and the state with additional options. The timing of the pandemic is particularly important in Maine, as some towns have yet to hold their annual town meetings and most school budget processes have not advanced to board votes.
Elements of LD 2167, An Act To Implement Provisions Necessary to the Health, Welfare and Safety of the Citizens of Maine in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, includes provisions that will allow municipalities to continue to fund government operations at the same budget level approved for the previous year and authorizes the municipal treasurer to disburse funds on the authority of the warrant signed by the municipal officers outside of a public meeting. The law also allows the assessor to commit taxes based on the previous year’s budget level if necessary. The law also allows municipal officers to postpone the date of a scheduled municipal secret ballot election by posting notice in a public location at least two days prior to the election and to use previously printed ballots. These provisions would all be repealed on Jan. 1, 2021.
The towns of Strong, Avon and Chesterville have all announced that they intend to postpone their town meetings until later this spring. Farmington selectman will meet tonight about the Farmington town meeting, previously scheduled for March 30. A number of other towns hold their annual meetings in the summer.
Similarly, school districts would be allowed to continue operations at the same budget level as approved in the previous fiscal year if necessary, should meetings be delayed.
LD 2167 also extends the registrations for motor vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, watercraft and dogs issued by towns for 30 days after the end of the public health emergency. Municipalities are further empowered to grant requests for liquor license renewals without a hearing.
IRS extending income tax payment deadlines
The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are also providing special payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For individuals, income tax payment deadlines for individual returns, with a due date of April 15, 2020, are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $1 million of their 2019 tax due. This payment relief applies to all individual returns, including self-employed individuals, and all entities other than C-Corporations, such as trusts or estates. IRS will automatically provide this relief to taxpayers. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this relief.
For C Corporations, income tax payment deadlines are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $10 million of their 2019 tax due.
This relief also includes estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020. Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. If you file your tax return or request an extension of time to file by April 15, 2020, you will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by July 15.
The filing deadline for tax returns remains April 15, 2020. For those who can’t file by the April 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request a six-month extension to file their return. The easiest and fastest way to request a filing extension is to electronically file Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses must file Form 7004.
This relief only applies to federal income tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2020, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax.
Central Maine Power expands customer protections
Central Maine Power Company announced today that it is suspending late payment and customer reconnection charges for all customers and is seeking to extend protections to eligible customers participating in certain payment plans.
The company filed a request with the Maine Public Utilities Commission to address the temporary payment plan adjustments. It also advised the MPUC that it would suspend late payment charges and reconnection charges – typically charged to customers moving into an existing location with CMP – for the duration of the moratorium period announced Monday by the Commission, during which no state utilities may disconnect customers.
“We are also very conscious of the financial impact of this pandemic,” David Flanagan, Executive Board Chairman of CMP, said in a statement. “We believe that a temporary adjustment to the payment plans that allows eligible customers to remain in those plans longer than is typical is the right thing to do in the current circumstances. We can extend special consideration to customers who are making a good faith effort to pay their bills in these extraordinarily difficult times.”
Specifically, CMP has requested that eligible low-income customers who participate in the company’s Arrearage Management Program (AMP), who are striving to pay down accounts that are in arrears, not be terminated from the program in the event of missed payments.
Earlier this week, CMP and Public Advocate Barry Hobbins asked the MPUC to extend the period in which winter disconnection rules apply shortly before the MPUC issued its similar order for all Maine utilities.
CMP encourages any customer who is challenged to pay their electric bills to call the company to discuss possible sources of assistance and individual payment arrangements.
CMP also noted that it is deploying lineworkers to patrol all circuits that serve hospitals and other critical care facilities to help prevent service interruptions.
“We are focused on ensuring continuity of the essential service we provide; specifically, we are working to prevent any disruption in service to critical facilities like hospitals, urgent care offices, and even food distribution centers,” said Flanagan.