WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service plans to delay the start of tax-filing season by a week or two because of the government shutdown, the agency said this week. But taxpayers will still have to turn in their 2013 returns by April 15 as usual.
“Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right,” Daniel Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, 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,” he said.
Under the delay, the IRS would start accepting returns between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, the agency said, and would make a final determination in December on when the filing season would start.
It will be the second year in a row that the IRS has held off on accepting tax returns because of a political standoff. This year, after months of negotiations, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed a major fiscal deal adjusting tax rates just after New Year’s, leading the IRS to delay the start of the filing season to Jan. 30 from Jan. 22. Certain taxpayers with unusual filing restrictions had to wait until February or even March to file.
During the 16-day partial government shutdown, which ended last week, the IRS furloughed more than 90 percent of its 94,516 workers and closed most of its operations. The shutdown came during the peak of IRS preparations for tax season, the agency said, and put it “nearly three weeks behind its tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season.”