The 2014 federal tax filing season will begin on Jan. 31. That's 10 days later than the originally planned starting date, thanks to the 16-day federal government shutdown in October.
"The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems validation," said IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel in a statement announcing the filing season timetable.
The closure of federal offices in the fall came at the worst time for the IRS. Around 90 percent of IRS operations were closed, said the agency, putting it nearly three weeks behind schedule in preparing for the 2014 filing season.
Adding to the 2014 filing season delay were training, programming and testing demands on new return processing systems created to provide added protection against refund fraud as well as identity theft detection and prevention.
The start of tax return filing in 2014 is one day later than in 2013. That filing season started on Jan. 30 because tax law changes in the American Taxpayer Relief Act were not approved by Congress until last New Year's Day. As with the coming filing season, the IRS needed time to ensure its systems were prepared to handle the new laws.
Effects on filers
What does this mean to Jane and John Taxpayer? Obviously any refunds will be issued later.
If you file electronically, which the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to do, you still can prepare your return as soon as you have all the necessary information. The IRS says many software companies are expected to begin accepting tax returns in January and will hold those returns until the IRS systems open on Jan. 31.
As for filers who still do their taxes the old-fashioned way, the IRS says there's no advantage to sending in paper returns before the opening date. The agency won't process any tax returns before Jan. 31.
Taxes still due April 15
Since the filing season is opening later, will that affect the tax return filling deadline? No.
The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place, the IRS says.
But taxpayers will still have the same option they've always had if they can't get their taxes done by then. You can file Form 4868, either electronically or on paper, and request an automatic six-month extension to file your return.
Just remember to pay any, or as much as you can, of any tax due. The extension is to file your Form 1040, not an extension to pay your tax bill.
Do you expect the delayed opening of 2014's filing season to have any effect on you?
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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."