The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced last week that they would open the 2014 tax season to begin accepting 2013 tax returns on January 31, 2014.
The IRS had originally scheduled the 2014 tax season to begin on January 21, 2014. However, the IRS had to delay the opening of the tax season by 10 days because of the 16-day federal government shutdown in October.
The government shutdown took place during a time when the IRS is normally making changes to their tax processing systems to account for tax law changes and then testing those changes to ensure they function as intended. As approximately 90 percent of IRS staff and operations were not working during the shutdown, the IRS was unable to move forward with the system changes as planned.
IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel noted that the 10-day delay to the start of the 2014 tax season was reasonable given that the IRS lost approximately three full workweeks during the government shutdown. IRS staff had to ensure over 50 different IRS applications used to process the approximately 145 million tax returns the IRS will receive in the 2014 tax season were working correctly.
“Our teams have been working hard throughout the fall to prepare for the upcoming tax season,” noted Werfel. “The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing, and systems validation. It’s a complex process, and our bottom-line goal is to provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers.”
Although the IRS is delaying the start of the 2014 tax season by 10 days, the tax filing deadline of April 15, 2014, will remain in place. Taxpayers may still request a six-month extension on the tax filing deadline by completing Form 4868 before April 15. However, taxpayers must still make a payment of any estimated tax due by April 15 in order to avoid being assessment a late filing penalty.
This marks the second straight year that the IRS has had to delay the opening of the tax season. The 2013 tax season did not open until January 30, 2013. The delay in the start of the 2013 tax season was because of tax law changes passed by Congress on January 1, 2013, under the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA).
Free File and e-file Provide Fastest Way to Receive Tax Season Refund
The IRS also reminded taxpayers that the fastest way to receive their refund is to use either the Free File or e-file options and choosing to receive their refund by direct deposit. These options are available to taxpayers who prepare their own income tax returns using one of many various commercial tax filing software packages or who have a tax attorney or accountant prepare their tax returns.
The IRS has made more information about these options available on their web site at http://www.irs.gov/filing.
Although the IRS will not begin accepting tax returns until January 31, many tax preparers will begin accepting tax returns earlier in January and holding those returns until the IRS will accept them.
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Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.