By Bernie Becker - 10/22/13 08:13 PM EDT
Taxpayers seeking their refund will have to wait a little longer next year because of this month’s government shutdown, the IRS said Tuesday.
Next year’s filing season was supposed to start on Jan. 21, but will now begin no later than Feb. 4. A final decision on the start date will be announced in December.
The IRS noted Tuesday that the April 15 filing deadline is locked in by law, and that it’s looking for ways to make the delay as short as possible.
Danny Werfel, the interim IRS chief, said the delay was needed to help the agency update the computer systems it uses to process close to 150 million returns a year.
The government shutdown, the IRS said, started just as the agency was ramping up its efforts to get ready for the 2014 season. Most of the work on updating the tax processing systems occurs in the fall, the agency added.
“Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right,” Werfel said in a statement.
“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.”
A 2014 delay would mark the second time in as many years that the IRS pushed back the filing season. The 2013 season was pushed back just over a week because of the changes made in the fiscal-cliff deal that President Obama signed early this year.
Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, dubbed the delay “yet another unfortunate effect of a shutdown that Republicans should have never caused.”
“The entirety of the shutdown’s harmful impact won’t be known for months, if not longer. But what is already clear is that it has cost our economy tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs,” Levin said in a statement.
“This tax-filing delay just adds insult to injury for Americans hoping to get a jump start on their tax refunds in January.”