What does Unpaid Labor have to do with the Tax Deadline?

What in the world does slavery in 1862 have to do with my taxes? Everybody knows taxes are due on April 15. Right? Wrong. Not this year. Not this year because April 15 is a holiday. Not for me. I got to work. So what’s up?

Well, before President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 he signed something else. That something else was the Compensated Emancipation Act. The President signed it on April 16, 1862. It paid slaveholders to free 3,000 slaves in Washington D.C. What? The government paying people to free other people? That doesn’t sound right but that’s what happened.

In 2005, to celebrate the Compensated Emancipation Act, Emancipation Day was made an official public holiday in the District of Columbia. So, it’s a holiday in Washington D.C. so the Internal Revenue Service or IRS is closed. The IRS is the agency that collects taxes on April 15 every year. So this year, your taxes are due on April 18 because the 15th is a holiday-in D.C.  You still have to go to work.

Confused? Me too? But imagine how confusing it must have been when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It said that all of the slaves in another country would be free unless that country decided to become a part of the United States. Those slaves were held in the Confederate States of America. The Confederate States of America were 11 states that used to be part of the United States until they left the country. They left because they wanted to keep their slaves.  That’s what the Civil War was all about.

So was President Lincoln confused? No. You see he was losing the war with this new country called the Confederate States of America. He had a big military problem. That problem needed a military solution. That solution was the Emancipation Proclamation. It didn’t free anyone, but it helped the slaves in the south to free themselves. Read about it at unpaidlabor.com if you haven’t already. And relax. Taxes aren’t due until April 18 this year.