Tomorrow marks the 149th anniversary of the day Abraham Lincoln signed an act that declared slaves living in Washington, D.C. no longer the property of other people. Nine months after 3,100 slaves were freed in the District, Lincoln freed slaves on a much larger scale by signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.
In D.C., government offices and schools close on April 16 in observance of Emancipation Day. This District holiday for D.C. workers and schoolchildren, however, changes up how the rest of the country is used to doing things.
But in a good way.
Since April 16 falls on a Saturday, offices and schools are closed today. And because that includes the offices of the Internal Revenue Service, you’re off the hook for filing taxes — at least for another weekend.
Unless you’ve filed an extension, federal and state tax filings must be postmarked by midnight 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 18 (or, as is more commonly the case, you gotta hit the Turbo Tax “send” button.)
Emancipation Day, which has been observed in D.C. since 2005, pushed the tax deadline to April 17 back in 2006. Some states and Puerto Rico also observe an Emancipation Day, depending on when slaves in their state were freed. In Texas, it’s June 19 and in Florida it’s May 20.
Two years and one month after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, a majority of the then 36 states passed the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, formally ending slavery in the United States on January 31, 1865. Only six states opposed the amendment. Mississippi didn’t ratify the amendment until 1995.
Five months after the 13th Amendment was ratified, the Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, when Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to Ulysses Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
So tomorrow’s a good day to observe in D.C. and the rest of the country, no matter what kind of break it gives last-minute filers.