Washington DC celebrates Emancipation Day on the weekday nearest April 16th. Wikipedia says:

As the federal government observes the holiday, it causes the federal and all state tax deadlines to be moved to the 18th if Emancipation Day falls on the weekend and to the 17th if Emancipation Day falls on a Monday

But the Federal Government does not list Emancipation Day as a holiday. Wikipedia says about Emanicpation Day on its Tax Day entry

under a federal statute enacted decades ago, holidays observed in the District of Columbia have an impact nationwide

which maybe is true, but since the Post Offices in DC are open, it is hard to see the impact. There is no link to the relevant federal statute.

Why does Tax Day sometimes depend on Emancipation Day>

  • 1
    It is a local rather than a federal holiday that has the side effect of postponing taxes nationally because it happens in someplace critical for tax administration. Patriot Day (a.k.a. Boston Marathon Day), a New England holiday which is also today, also sometimes impacts tax filing deadlines.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 16:36
  • @ohwilleke Patriot's day used to affect taxes because the employees in the tax processing center had the day off. The government has since changed the center locations and Patriot's day no longer impacts on when taxes are due. As far as I know, no federal offices are closed in DC on Emancipation day, only local DC offices.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


U.S. Law pertaining to the the three Federal Holidays that occur on a fixed date (New Years (Jan 1st), Independence Day (July 4th), and Christmas (December 25th)) states that should the day of these holidays fall on a weekend (Saturday and Sunday) then Federal Employees will receive the following Monday off.

Emancipation Day is celebrated with a Parade in D.C., which is not the easiest city to commute in when there isn't a public spectacle in the streets. To relieve congestion, Federal Employees (including the HQ of the IRS) are given the day off. By D.C. law, Emancipation Day must take place on the week day closest to the 16th of April. By Federal Law, Tax day is the 15th, unless the 15th is a Saturday or Sunday, in which it will be the following Monday unless that Monday is a holiday in D.C., in which case it will default to the next day, Tuesday.

It is not a specific law, but two laws that overlap contributing to the problem. Since the IRS employees are given a day off on Tax Day, it counts as a Holiday and is moved back. Since the specific holiday can only occurs on the weekday, it will mean the main HQ is not open, which officially affects tax day.

  • The federal government is open today: opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/…. Maybe the IRS is special, but I cannot find anything that says that is the case.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 15:56
  • 2
    @StrongBad: But it's still a D.C. Holiday and for the purposes of taxes, Tax Day cannot be on a holiday. For example, in Patriot's Day is only observed in Mass., but since the IRS has an intake center there AND those employees do get off per Union Bargining, the states that send their taxes to that center also have a break. It could be same Union Rules apply at HQ.
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 16:19
  • If a holiday falls on a Saturday employees get Friday off, see Christmas this year - opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/federal-holidays/… Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 14:53

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