Monday, April 17, 2006

Procrastinators had a crowded 3-day weekend as Easter bumped up against the income tax filing deadline

The good news for procrastinators this year was that April 15 fell on a Saturday, giving them 2 extra days to prepare their taxes. The bad news for some was that Easter fell on the same weekend. Procrastinating Easter celebrants found themselves a) putting the taxes off until Monday but ending up obsessing about them on Easter Sunday; b) taking time away from the festivities to do the taxes on Easter and leave Monday for unanticipated glitches; or c) getting a head start on Saturday, thus cutting into the procrastinator’s traditional time to procure Easter basket goodies.

In case you’re wondering how the date of Easter is calculated, you’ll find a wealth of information at Calendar & Easter Topics -- probably more than you want to know. Be warned that it’s written by an Australian who gets quite exercised about references to Easter being tied to the “vernal” equinox, because for him it's not. He's also unhappy about a certain lack of precision in the everyday way of talking about full moons.
Sadly, many definitions of Easter on the Internet and in Encyclopaedias and Almanacs are misleading, ambiguous and just plain wrong! This is obvious with the application of plain commonsense. A typical wrong definition is:

Easter Sunday is the Sunday following the full moon after the Vernal Equinox. This is wrong!

Vernal means spring, and countries in the Southern hemisphere have opposite seasons to those in the Northern hemisphere. Of course, Easter is not celebrated in September in the southern hemisphere! Most astronomers interpret "Vernal Equinox" to mean the March Equinox, but even that is equally wrong in this definition, but for different reasons (see below).

Also, I think that almost everyone reading this would assume that "full moon" refers to an astronomical full moon date. An astronomical full moon (AFM) occurs at one instant in time, and therefore occurs on 2 dates around the world (consider countries either side of the international dateline!). Again, countries do not celebrate different Easter dates based upon their own full moon dates!
How often does it happen that the filing deadline is the Monday after Easter? It happened 8 times in the 20th century (most recently 1990 and 1995) and will happen 8 times in the 21st century (2001), but on an irregular basis. It will happen again in 2017 and 2028, but after that your Easter weekend will be free of worries about Monday filing deadlines until 2063.

1 comment:

Grant Miller said...

Only poor, ignorant liberals pay taxes anyway. I am a rich, greedy plutocrat and I haven't paid taxes in decades since all my bank accounts are based in the Caymen Islands and I'm best friends with the Bush family. But I liked your blog nonetheless.