Government Shutdown Delays Tax Filing Season


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The IRS announced today that the government shutdown that lasted from October 1 to October 16 will cause the start of the 2014 tax filing season to be delayed. Unfortunately, the deadline to file taxes (unless you file for an extension) is still April 15, so this does nothing to help taxpayers who like to wait until later to file their returns.

According to a statement released by the IRS, "about 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown...putting the IRS nearly three weeks behind its tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season."

The IRS employees were just a part of the nearly 1 million government workers that were furloughed during the shutdown. “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 says that it is possible that they could shorten the delay and will make an announcement in December with the final decision. For now, though, the agency wants everyone to prepare for the January 21 filing date that was planned to be pushed to as late as February 4. This move will hurt a lot of people that like to file early to get their tax refunds at the earliest possible date.

The delay in the start of tax filing season will also be problematic for CPAs and others who prepare tax returns. Not only will their customers' returns be delayed, they will be expected to process the same amount of returns in less time. "While H&R Block is well prepared to adjust to the IRS announcement of a delay in the opening of the 2014 tax season, we are frustrated for our clients who are among the estimated 18 million taxpayers who typically file a return in January," the tax preparation company said in a statement.

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