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Tax Day steps aside for Emancipation Day

Friday - 4/13/2012, 6:08am  ET

emance.jpg
This image of a wood engraving depicting African-Americans celebrating the abolition of slavery in D.C. ran in Harper's Weekly in May 1866. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

John Aaron, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The deadline to file taxes has been pushed to April 17 because the normal deadline, April 15, falls on a Sunday, and Monday is a holiday in D.C.

That holiday is Emancipation Day. So what is Emancipation Day?

"It's a highly celebrated time," says Pete Piringer, spokesman for the Office of the Secretary for D.C.

"Over 3,000 people, slaves, were freed."

Piringer says that on April 16, 1862, a bill was signed into law emancipating those currently in slavery in D.C. At the time, the federal government spent more than $1 million to secure their freedom -- months before Abraham Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation.

The holiday was made official by the District of Columbia in 2005.

According to the IRS website, federal law requires the agency to observe legal Washington, D.C. holidays.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)