Can tax deadline be extended? Casten seeks May 20 date

Suburbanites filing returns might be in for an unpleasant surprise as implications of a federal income tax overhaul hit home, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten said Saturday.

The freshman Democrat talked taxes, finding common ground with Republican constituents and the next shoe to drop on the Mueller report during an interview in his hometown of Downers Grove.

"We're probably going to spend a couple weeks talking about what we think is in a report none of us have read," Casten said. The report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was handed to Attorney General William Barr Friday and should shed light on Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump's campaign.

"We need to find a way to make the Mueller report public as soon as possible," Casten said.

In a 420-0 House vote for public release of the report "every single one of the (House) Republicans voted with us," Casten said, although the bill died in the Senate, which is why he thinks "we're in a constitutional crisis now."

As tax deadlines loom, Casten is co-sponsoring legislation with Naperville Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood to push back the deadline from April 15 to May 20. The 35-day postponement reflects the length of the government shutdown early in 2019.

As a result, calls from constituents about tax law changes went unanswered for weeks and Internal Revenue Service employees are still handling a backlog of work, Casten said.

Revisions to the tax code increase the standard deduction and child tax credit but cap the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted and eliminate personal exemptions. For middle-class taxpayers who didn't tweak the amount withheld from their pay, "I think there will be a fair amount of sticker shock," Casten said. He anticipates his bill will pass the House but can't predict the Senate.

Casten has 11 weeks under his belt on Capitol Hill, where he sits on the Committee on Financial Services. As he prepared to ask questions of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at a Feb. 27 session, his phone started buzzing. "All my friends from college were texting and saying, 'Are you in the hearing?'"

The excitement, however, wasn't about his meeting but the Oversight Committee, where former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was testifying. "Apparently (ours) wasn't the most interesting," Casten said.

He's untroubled by others in his freshman class, such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, garnering attention. "It's hard to do your job if a camera's in your face all the time," he said.

The businessman and scientist wrested the seat away from longtime conservative GOP Rep. Peter Roskam last year and has drawn ire from some voters over opposing Trump's emergency declaration on border security.

Casten has held five townhalls in the last 70 days and hopes to connect with Republicans in the district. He told his staff, "if nobody stands up and gets angry we're not doing it right. It's easy to get your believers to come to the table but we've got to get people to come who have a difference of opinion and hear them out."

The five events include: a Jan. 13 townhall in Wheaton; a Jan. 22 government shutdown roundtable and townhall in Algonquin; a Feb. 18 townhall with Underwood in Crystal Lake; a Feb. 21 League of Women Voters townhall in Wheaton; and a townhall in Crystal Lake hosted by Indivisible NW IL.

Underwood, Casten make history in Washington and in the suburbs

U.S. Rep. Casten: Thousands affected locally by government shutdown

The Latest: Pelosi stops short of endorsing Green New Deal

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.