If you’re used to filing your taxes early in the new year, you’re going to have to wait.
Not only did the 16-day government shutdown delay almost $4 billion in tax refunds — it’s delaying the 2014 tax filing season.
The Internal Revenue Service announced that the 2014 tax filing season will begin Jan. 31.
“It’s about ten days later than we had originally planned to start out and that’s due to the government shutdown that lasted for a couple of weeks … early to mid-October time frame,” said IRS spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins.
According to Jenkins, the government shutdown came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the filing season.
“There are a lot of programming systems where changes needed to be done,” Jenkins said. “Typically at that time of the year is when we’re getting most of the systems online for the upcoming filing season, so the shut down occurred at a time when we’re really making a lot of forward progress to getting ready for the filing season.”
She said updating the more than 50 IRS systems is a complex, year-round process, and the majority of the work begins in the fall.
The shutdown halted 90 percent of IRS operations so the agency was nearly three weeks behind schedule.
Jenkins said they were able to get the systems running more quickly than planned and closed that three-week gap to ten days.
She said the delay shouldn’t affect most taxpayers because they don’t usually file that early in the season.
“Typically, folks have to wait for their W2s, for other income statements to arrive if they also have other say expense documents that they need to use to basically prove tax credit or a deduction that they’re going to be writing off,” Jenkins said.
According to Jenkins, using e-files or the IRS’s Free File is the fastest way to receive tax refunds.
She said Free File is available on the IRS’s website and allows anyone to electronically file their tax return for free
“It will basically allow folks whose income is below a certain level to access brand name tech software to prepare and file their taxes for free,” Jenkins said. “For folks who have higher incomes that can access fillable forms which they can use to submit their tax return to us for free as well.”
While filing is delayed, the April 15 tax deadline will stay in place unless taxpayers request an automatic six-month extension by filing Form 4868.
The business filers can start sending their tax returns Jan. 13.