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How Global Warming Impacts Filing Your Taxes On Time

How has filing for taxes been made more difficult by global warming, and what could be done to allow tax filing deadlines to resume as usual, and tax filing deadlines accordingly and keep taxes from being implicated by global warming?
Ecology News
2023-08-24T00:00:00.000Z
en-us

Filing for your taxes every year is often stressful enough: with either needing to sit down and crunch the numbers yourself or recruit the help of an accountant to make sure you file your taxes on time every year. However, besides the difficulty of taxes in the U.S. themselves, something else is making them challenging to file on time – and that’s climate change.

How has filing for taxes, otherwise known as tax season, changed and been affected by the current state of global warming, how have states adjusted their tax filing deadlines accordingly, and what could be done in the future to prevent tax season from being affected by global warming?

How do taxes work in the U.S.?

Taxes in the U.S. are usually filed between the dates of January 1st and April 15th every calendar year – with IRS taxes being due before the end of April. State taxes may have a varied deadline, but they are never due before federal taxes are due. This time period at the start of the year is usually referred to as, “tax season”. 

👉 Americans, unlike most of the rest of people in the world, are obliged to file for both federal and state taxes every year – with the exception of some Americans who lived abroad who may be exempt from filing their state taxes. However, all Americans, regardless of where in the world they live – are always required to file for their taxes with the IRS.

Taxes in the U.S. can be subject to late fees if the taxes are filed late, and Americans can even get into trouble with the IRS if they fail to properly file their taxes. This year, 2023, Americans are able to file for their taxes from January 23rd to April 18th – with some exceptions if they were eligible to request for a filing extension.

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When it comes to Americans filing for their taxes, Americans who are not self-employed will usually receive a form called a “W-2” from their employer – or a wage and tax statement that guides them through how to file their taxes. There are two choices to be had when choosing how to file for taxes in the U.S.: to do your taxes “by hand” and fill out the annual federal and state tax forms by yourself, or to consult the help of a tax software provider such as H&R Block or TurboTax to file your taxes for you.

In the world of social media, the number of Americans opting to use tax software over doing their own taxes is growing – with up to 46% of Americans using tax software systems. 

Taxes are clearly complicated enough: how could something as catastrophic as climate change make them even worse?

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How could global warming have an effect on taxes?

It doesn’t seem like global warming could affect something as long-standing and mathematical as filing for your annual taxes, but it turns out that natural disasters play a huge part in how ept businesses and individuals are alike to file their taxes on time. 

This is because of the natural disasters and other extreme weather patterns that have been caused due to climate change. Weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, and storms can cause damage to business or individual property – causing those companies or people to become preoccupied with dealing with the damage repairs necessary instead of being able to focus their full attention on their annual taxes. As climate change continues to provoke more natural disasters that cause these insurance disasters, the IRS has been forced to allow for more tax filing extensions to allow businesses and people to deal with their repairs calmly before attempting to tackle their taxes.

Natural disasters are becoming more common across the country, too – with up to 40% of Americans living in areas that are subject to a weather emergency event of some kind. However, many of the southern states that reside alongside the Gulf of Mexico remain the most vulnerable – and also the most likely to adjust their deadlines for filing for taxes.

View of Clearwater, Florida – city off of Gulf of Meixco coast

How has climate change affected Americans filing for taxes so far?

Several states have already delayed the deadline for residents to file their taxes due to natural disasters provoked by climate change.

For instance, residents of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee have until July 31st to file their taxes due to tornadoes and storms that have caused long-term damage. States that have experienced flooding such as California, Georgia, and Alabama are also eligible for a tax extension until May 15th. Overall, the IRS has allowed for the delayed filing of taxes for the past two years – with now parts of 15 states having qualified for a tax filing extension and even up to 27 states being granted momentary tax relief of some kind. These deadlines for taxes are only expected to get longer as climate change continues to persist. 

Residents of these states eligible for these disaster tax relief extensions are allotted an additional 120 days to file their taxes without penalties or being subject to interest rates. If the natural disaster causes more serious damage, longer extensions for filing taxes can be granted – as these weather implications have shifted priorities. In other words, the IRS is more concerned with ensuring that these taxpayers put their available financial resources towards rebuilding their businesses or homes as opposed to paying their taxes on time. 

Besides causing delays, extreme weather conditions caused by climate change have also made it more difficult to ensure paperwork and records remain safe (whether physically or electronically) – and the loss of this otherwise safe and stored information can result in delays in filing taxes as well.

damaged house

How is climate change changing taxes in the U.S.?

Even though the majority of taxes are filed in the U.S. within the first quarter of the year, with the harsh deadline for taxes at the end of April having been implemented for decades – climate change is starting to have an effect on when taxes are filed. While many Americans have easily surpassed the previous late April deadline to file their taxes before, it is becoming more common for taxes to be filed later – causing delays in reimbursements and payments to the federal government to be processed. 

Basically, climate change is making tax season, an already long and dreadful process – even more tedious and prolonged. 

Many Americans have grown accustomed to the traditional tax season, but climate change is changing the annual date for which taxes are due – making it harder for Americans to plan when to set aside the time to file for their taxes. This change in schedule can result in even more taxes remaining unfiled, and cause disruption and disorganization to the tax system as a whole. More people requesting extensions to file their taxes means more IRS digging into the financial situations of American households and businesses to ensure that the request for the extension to file is legitimate. 

👉 Climate change is overall making taxes in the U.S. more complicated and less punctual – something that is necessary to ensure a system as complicated as filing for federal and state taxes in the U.S. is done in an efficient manner.

Do U.S. taxes themselves contribute to climate change?

Taxes, on their own, do not contribute to climate change – but the way they are set up and how the federal or state governments choose to impose taxes could have an impact on the environment and climate change moving forward. This is precisely why Americans are trying to be given tax incentives to switch to the more environmentally friendly choice for a product or service – as depicted with Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 passed last summer.

For instance, if the government chooses to place a heavy tax on finite resources like oil or coal – it could help to encourage businesses to transition to the use of clean energy and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, taxes could be a way to encourage more sustainable practices that could actually help to deter future predicaments (such as how taxes have been affected) by climate change. 

Taxes are also used to help fund measures that are used to help fight climate change: such as by financing infrastructure upgrades, disaster relief programs, and research for renewable energy development. 

Ultimately, taxes themselves do not cause climate change – but they can be used as a means to an end to help persuade businesses and individuals alike to shift to more renewable energy sources that can help to reduce the impact of climate change on things like filing for taxes.

scrabble cubes spelling taxes over paperwork

What could be done to prevent taxes from being impacted from climate change?

In a perfect world, the answer to ensuring that taxes are to no longer be affected by climate change would mean the world kick’s their environmental game up a notch and that we would make collective progress in reducing global surface temperatures worldwide. 

However, while we still work towards that globally collective, imperative goal – there are some other ways that businesses and individuals alike can prevent natural disasters due to climate change from impacting them from filing for their annual taxes.

Build a More Resilient Supply Chain

Companies that aim to create a more resilient supply chain would not only benefit from an economic and environmental perspective, but it could help all areas of their business to remain durable even when disaster strikes – such as a tornado or thunderstorm that impacts the financial success of their business, and ergo filing for their taxes.

Make Climate Resilient Investments

Businesses that choose to invest in climate resilience measures such as infrastructure can help to improve the durability of their offices or surrounding roads: all of which can help to prevent damage from a natural disaster, and a subsequent delay in filing for taxes.

calculator and notepad on top of usd bills

Promote Sustainable Practices

Both governments and businesses should keep finding new ways to encourage sustainable practices. This can help prevent the predicament of a natural disaster crisis from impacting taxes in the future, while also reducing global emissions and making the planet a better place to live.

Make a Long-Term Plan for Filing Taxes

It isn’t all up to the business or individual filing for their taxes – governments should try to help where they can by creating contingency plans that can help people file their taxes in the midst of a climate change crisis.

Governments Should Aim to Diversify Revenue Streams

Again, the government can help to reduce the impact climate change has on filing for your annual taxes – such as by diversifying their revenue streams to decrease their dependency on taxes to be paid by businesses across the country. Examples include seeking revenue from grants, public or private partnerships, or general fees.

In the end, ensuring that taxes are no longer to be impacted by climate change requires effort and varied mitigation tactics on behalf of both the governments and the potential tax payer. However, if we really want to prevent climate change from impacting taxes in the long-term – the best solution is to get to the root of the problem and tackle global warming itself.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about how global warming impacts filing for your taxes on time has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Managing your company's carbon emissions in the midst of climate change can become difficult to manage, and the stress of tax season can make it even worse – but fear not. Greenly is here to help! Book a demo with one of our specialists today to see how we can help you get started in your climate journey.

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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