The 16-day federal government closure has caused a one- to two-week delay to start reviewing 2013 taxes, the Internal Revenue Service announced.
Set by federal statute, the April 15 tax deadline remains in place.
The original start date of the 2014 filing season was Jan. 21, and with a one- to two-week delay, the IRS will start accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns no earlier than Jan. 28 and no later than Feb. 4. The IRS will announce a final decision on the start of the 2014 filing season in December, IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a news release.
The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season. Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns.
About 90 percent of IRS operations closed during the shutdown–and some of its major components closed entirely during this period in early October–putting the IRS nearly three weeks behind its timetable for starting the 2014 filing season. For this tax year, there are additional training, programming and testing demands on IRS systems to provide additional refund fraud and identity theft detection and prevention.
“The adjustment to the start of the filing season provides us the necessary time to program, test and validate our systems so we can provide a smooth filing and refund process,” Werfel said. “We want the public and tax professionals to know about the delay well in advance.”
The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the start date. Taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit, according to the IRS. With Form 4868, anyone may request a six-month extension to file a tax return.
IRS processes, applications and databases must be updated annually to reflect tax law updates, business process changes, and programming updates in time for the start of the filing season.
During the federal closure, the IRS received 400,000 pieces of correspondence, in addition to the 1 million items already being processed before the shutdown.
“In the days ahead, we will continue assessing the impact of the shutdown on IRS operations, and we will do everything we can to work through the backlog and pent-up demand,” Werfel said. “We greatly appreciate the patience of taxpayers and the tax professional community during this period.”
To access tax applications, visit www.irs.gov.