If you're expecting a tax refund this coming filing season, get ready to wait.
The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the 16-day government shutdown will push the start of the 2014 tax-filing season to late January.
The original start date of next year's filing season was Jan. 21. Now, however, the IRS doesn't expect to start accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns before Jan. 28, 2014, and the opening of tax filing could be delayed as late as Feb. 4.
A late start obviously will make the full filing season slower than usual.
The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season, said Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel in a statement announcing the delay.
Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems are necessary to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns. The IRS updates the 50-plus core systems it uses to process the tax returns throughout the year, but the majority of the work starts each fall.
Werfel said he and his staff are exploring options to shorten the expected delay. A final opening date of the 2014 filing season will be announced in December.
In the meantime, you might want to adjust your withholding.
If you wait until January to file, you won't get your refund money until mid-February at the earliest.
But if you change your withholding so that there is less tax taken out of your final 2013 paychecks, you'll have your money in hand now, in plenty of time for holiday spending.
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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and a co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."