Why? The IRS said it "spread out the peak workload." It could also be because, as the middle class grew, the IRS had to issue more refunds. Pushing back the deadline let them hold onto your money just a wee bit longer. (Source: Jessica Sung, "Why Is April 15 Tax Day?" Fortune Magazine, April 15, 2002)
The tax deadline was extended to April 17 in 2012, and to April 18 in 2011. Send your thanks to President Lincoln and Emancipation Day, the day he freed the slaves in Washington D.C. By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do.
In 2012, April 15 fell on a Sunday, and Emancipation Day was the following Monday. So the tax deadline was pushed to Tuesday, April 17. Similarly, in 2011 April 15 fell on Emancipation Day itself, which was a Friday. The tax deadline was pushed out to the following Monday, April 18. As a result, all taxpayers had two extra days to file in 2012, and three extra days to file in 2011.
Tax Freedom Day was April 17. It's just a coincidence that this was the same day taxes were due. That was five days later than Tax Freedom Day in 2011, which fell on April 12. What's the significance of Tax Freedom Day? Until then, all workers' incomes went just to pay off their taxes. The recession provided one strange benefit, however. In 2012, Tax Freedom Day was about a week earlier than in 2007. In 2011, it was two weeks earlier. Slower economic growth meant that less taxes were collected. Many people who were unfortunate enough to lose jobs during the year found out they were put into a lower tax bracket. They paid less taxes, or none at all.
Surveys show that most people believe they paid higher taxes under Obama than previously. In fact, that's mistaken. The average taxpayer shelled out less.