October 23, 2013
Tax Season Delayed Two Weeks Due To Government Shutdown

Tax season will be delayed two weeks because of the government shutdown. The Internal Revenue Service announced the delay on Tuesday, explaining the delay is related to the department's refunds for early filers.

The IRS won't start processing 2013 tax returns until January 28, at the least, though the department explained it could begin as late as February 4. The planned start date was January 21.

USA Today reports that, despite the delay on the side of the IRS, taxpayers must still file a return by April 15, and companies still have to send W-2 and other tax forms on schedule.

The government shutdown began on October 1, when Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government. The resolution finally passed on October 16, and lasts until the middle of January. Should Congress fail to pass a new resolution, the government will face another shutdown, and taxpayers will see another delay in their tax refunds.

Under the government shutdown, The New York Times notes that the IRS was forced to furlough 90 percent of its employees and close most of its operations. Unfortunately for the department, and for taxpayers, the shutdown happened at the peak of the IRS' preparations for tax season, according to the agency.

Because of the untimely delay, the department is "nearly three weeks behind its tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season." The IRS also received 400,000 "pieces of correspondence" during the shutdown and had about a million items awaiting attention. Daniel I. Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, explained, "Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right."

Unfortunately, that also means that the IRS is delaying tax season for the second year in a row because of a political standoff. Last time, Congress passed a major fiscal deal to adjust tax rates right after the new year, delaying the filing season by over a week. Some taxpayers had to wait until February or March to file.

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