The 16-day government shutdown put a temporary halt to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systems testing, resulting in a one- to two- week delay to the 2014 tax filing season, the IRS announced on Oct. 22.
The normal date on which taxpayers could file their 2013 tax returns was set for Jan. 21, 2014. With this delay, the IRS will not be accepting 2013 tax returns any earlier than Jan. 28, 2014, but no later than Feb. 4.
According to the IRS statement, the shutdown came as they were updating core systems to ensure the accurate processing of the expected 150 million tax returns received during the tax filing season. Approximately 90 percent of IRS operations were closed between Oct. 1 and Oct. 16 when the U.S. Congress failed to reach a budget agreement that would fund government agencies.
Prior to the shutdown, the IRS had one million items in process; during the shutdown, they received an additional 400,000 correspondences, resulting in a backlog for the agency. The IRS is asking taxpayers to delaying calling or visiting IRS offices with non-urgent matters.
The fastest way to file and receive a tax refund is to submit returns electronically (e-file) and select the option to have a refund directly deposited into a bank account. Taxpayers may e-file through the IRS website.
Last year the tax filing season was delayed until Jan. 30 as the IRS made systems adjustments to incorporate provisions of American Taxpayers Relief Act passed by Congress Jan. 2, 2013.
The April 15, 2014 deadline for filing returns remains in place.