A tax season delay is being considered by the IRS after the agency was shut down following a 16-day government lapse in appropriations. The IRS announced on its web site yesterday that a delay of approximately one to two weeks is being considered, although the mid-April tax filing deadline remains in place.
“The IRS is exploring options to shorten the expected delay and will announce a final decision on the start of the 2014 filing season in December, Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said. The original start date of the 2014 filing season was Jan. 21, and with a one- to two-week delay, the IRS would start accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns no earlier than Jan. 28 and no later than Feb. 4.”
The shutdown occurred during the time when the IRS begins to reprogram all of its processing systems to accept the current year’s tax returns. With 90 percent of the Treasury Department on furlough, the department's annual programming, testing and implementation of more than 50 systems was put on hold.
The IRS processes most tax returns electronically; over 150 million were processed last year, and with the shutdown, the Service is three weeks behind.
“Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right,” Acting Commissioner 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.”
Those hoping to get a reprieve on the April 15 tax filing deadline will be disappointed; the IRS said that date is set by statute and cannot be altered.
Toll free lines are currently inundated with in-calls, as the IRS tries to play catch-up on taxpayer accounts. In addition to the phone work, over 400,000 pieces of correspondence received during the shutdown are being worked.