IRS Tax Season Delayed by Federal Shutdown

The 16-day closure of the federal government will delay the start of filing season by up to two weeks.

Add this to the ripple effects of the 16-day federal government shutdown: a delay to how soon you can file your 2013 tax returns.

The IRS announced Tuesday that there would be a probable delay of one to two weeks to the start of the 2014 filing season “to allow adequate time to program and test tax processing systems.”

According to a news release from the IRS, the agency is exploring ways to shorten the delay. The tax-filing season originally was scheduled to start on Jan. 21.

The government shutdown came at a crucial period during which the IRS prepares its systems for the annual tax season. It’s a year-round process that hits its peak beginning in the fall each year.

About 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown, putting the agency about three weeks behind schedule.

“Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right,” Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said. “The adjustment to the start of the filing season provides us the necessary time to program, test and validate our systems so that we can provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers. We want the public and tax professionals to know about the delay well in advance so they can prepare for a later start of the filing season.”

The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the final start date, which will be announced in December, but the April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place.

During the closure, the IRS received 400,000 pieces of correspondence, on top of 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.”


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