The Internal Revenue Service opened the 2012 tax filing season Wednesday by giving taxpayers two extra days to file their income taxes.

Taxes are traditionally due by April 15, but that falls on a Sunday this year. And because Emancipation Day -- a holiday in Washington, D.C., that celebrates the freeing of slaves in the district -- falls on April 16 this year, the deadline for individuals to file their 2011 tax returns and pay taxes will be postponed to Tuesday, April 17.

According to federal law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do.

Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 15 to file their 2012 tax returns.

The IRS expects to receive more than 144 million individual tax returns this year, with most of those being filed by the April 17 deadline.

The IRS encourages filers to submit returns online through the agency's e-filing system, which is considered by the IRS as a faster and more accurate option, starting from Jan. 17.