The Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that income tax filing will commence one to two weeks later than usual because of the 16-day partial government shutdown, according to a USA Today report.
The 2014 tax season was scheduled to start Jan. 21, but now it will start no earlier than Jan. 28 and no later than Feb. 4.
The shutdown hindered many government offices from performing duties because of employee furloughs and forced others to close completely.
The IRS says the additional time will be used to test tax processing systems. "The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season," the IRS said in a news release. "Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns."
The IRS was only operating at 10 percent of normal during the shutdown, which put it about three weeks behind in the preparations for the upcoming tax season. "Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right," Acting IRS Commissioner Danny 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. We want the public and tax professionals to know about the delay well in advance so they can prepare for a later start of the filing season."
Even though the IRS was barely open for business, they received approximately 400,000 pieces of correspondence. And these were in addition to the one million items the department was working on when the government closed.
The public will not know until December the exact date the IRS will begin to accept income tax returns. Filers are discouraged from filing early electronically because their refunds will not reach them any faster than those using snail mail.
The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place. The IRS reminds taxpayers, however, that anyone can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return. The request can be filed using Form 4868, which is available electronically or on paper.