Posted on October 23, 2013

Start of 2014 Tax Season Delayed Due to Government Shutdown

Following the 16-day federal government shutdown, the IRS has announced it will delay the start of the 2014 filing season by one to two weeks to allow more time to program and test tax processing systems.

Why the delay?

Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle the processing of nearly 150 million tax returns. Updating these systems is a complex, year-round process with the majority of the work beginning in the fall of each year. About 90% of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown, putting them nearly three weeks behind their tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season.

When to start filing

The IRS is exploring options to shorten the expected delay and will announce in December a final decision on the start of the 2014 filing season. The original start date of the 2014 filing season was January 21, and with a delay of one to two weeks, the IRS would start accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns no earlier than January 28 and no later than February 4.

There is no advantage to filing tax returns before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit. The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place. However, the IRS reminds taxpayers that anyone can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return. The request is easily done with Form 4868, which can be filed electronically or on paper.

Getting caught up

During the shutdown, the IRS received 400,000 pieces of correspondence, on top of the one million items already being processed before the shutdown. They are seeing heavy demand on their toll-free telephone lines, walk-in sites and other services from taxpayers and tax practitioners. Taxpayers are encouraged to wait to call or visit if their issue is not urgent, and to continue to use automated applications on whenever possible.

Source: Internal Revenue Service