Accountant group pushes tax filing change

Calls for bringing state into compliance with feds

IN THE SEEMINGLY ARCANE world of tax filing deadlines and extensions, timing is everything. And a simple change in Massachusetts tax filing deadlines to match new federal regulations would save Bay State businesses millions of dollars collectively while providing more revenue clarity for state officials.

That is why the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accounts, along with several other business organizations, support House bill 4716, which was filed to bring the state into compliance with changes in federal tax return due dates adopted last year.

In short, with THE new federal tax deadline, Massachusetts will be out of sync for the upcoming tax filing season, a situation that will cause undue confusion and cost unless remedied. Without this fix, a conservative estimate for the cost on business to handle the tax complications from the mismatched deadlines will be $20 million per year. Passage of this legislation will not only provide consistency and uniformity for Massachusetts filers, it will provide more accurate and timely filed returns. 

How did we get here? Last year, the federal government modified the due dates for corporate and partnership tax returns. These new changes, which will apply to the 2016 tax returns prepared during the 2017 tax filing season, will make the partnership and S corporation returns due first, on March 15, and individual and C corporation returns due a month after on April 15.

The new federal due dates provide a more logical and useful flow of information for both corporations and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Making the partnership return due first means that individuals and corporations will receive the necessary information to complete their own tax returns a month or more before their filing deadline, and C corporations will now have an extra month to file their returns and may no longer need to file an extension. Fewer returns filed using estimated figures will also mean fewer amended returns, providing the Commonwealth with a more complete and accurate revenue collection picture.

Currently, Massachusetts is one of only four states that does not conform to the new federal dates. Conforming to the federal changes prior to the start of the upcoming tax season is critical. Failure to do so could provide for a surge of extended returns, postponing revenues until next fiscal year. The discrepancies between state and federal laws will also likely cause confusion, especially for multi-state companies based in Massachusetts, which could have a negative effect on voluntary compliance.

Meet the Author

Amy Pitter

President and CEO, Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants
Time is running out to address the issue. Quick legislative action will save Massachusetts taxpayers and businesses countless hours in headaches and confusion, and also help the Commonwealth better account for its fiscal year 2017 revenue.

Amy Pitter is the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants.