AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills said Thursday that Maine will follow the federal government to extend the state deadline to file income taxes from April 15 to July 15 due to the new coronavirus outbreak.
The administration of President Donald Trump moved the federal deadline last week, kicking off a series of similar moves by states. Mills said in a Tuesday news conference that “most state governors are not particularly happy with the federal government’s action” and that Maine was examining how it would implement an extension without “sacrificing state finances.”
But the Democratic governor on Thursday placed Maine alongside a majority of states that have moved the deadline, according to the Tax Foundation. In a statement, Mills said recent congressional actions — including a $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at fighting off a recession — made it “appropriate and practical.”
“It is my hope that moving back this deadline will help provide a measure of relief to Maine people who are struggling to make ends meet as a result of COVID-19,” she said, referring to the condition caused by the coronavirus.
Part of the consideration was that the federal government, Maine and most other states must have balanced budgets. On Wednesday, State Treasurer Henry Beck said the state’s cash pool — the money from which revenue goes in and expenditures go out — sat at $1.5 billion.
Beck said he expected the state to be able to operate on that cash between April 15 and July 15, which falls in another state fiscal year but during the same two-year budget cycle. He said it was “unlikely” that the state would have to borrow to operate until payments are made in July.
Two weeks after announcing its first case, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday it had confirmed 155 cases of the virus in 11 counties, with 22 people hospitalized and another 16 who have recovered. There is evidence of community transmission in Cumberland and York counties.
Maine and the nation are under unprecedented stress due to the virus. The state saw 21,459 unemployment claims last week, which was more than quadruple the amount it saw over any week during the recession of 2008 and 2009, while a record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment, ending a long streak of job growth.
Mills had been under pressure to extend the deadline after the Trump administration moved the federal income tax deadline. Maine People Before Politics, a group chaired by former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, urged the current governor to do so on Thursday.
The July 15 extension applies to income taxes for individuals, corporations, estates and trusts. Late fees and interest payments will be waived until the new filing deadline, while sales and payroll tax collection will proceed as normal.