The IRS has set the date to open up their filing season, for year 2014, on January 31st. They encourage all taxpayers to take advantage of Free File, e-file, or TurboTax 2014, to get the quickest refunds of their 2014 taxes.
This opening date for filing tax returns for 2013 will give the IRS enough time to properly program and test their updated tax processing systems. There were substantial delays in their system back in October, immediately after they experienced that 16-day government shutdown.
The Acting Commissioner for the IRS, Mr. Danny Werfel, encouraged taxpayers with this statement, “Our team of professionals have been hard at work all throughout the fall season, preparing for this upcoming tax time. This late date in January will allow us plenty of time to get everything in order in regard to programming, testing, and validating our systems. The process is a complex one, and we will remain focused on our main goal, which is to provide a smooth filing platform and speedy refund process for the entire nation.”
The government shutdown caused the IRS to move their original opening date. It was first scheduled to be between January 21st and January 31st. This new date in 2014 is an extra day later than last year’s 2013 filing season date, which began on January 30th after Congress had changed the January tax law on the 1st. This change was made under the ATRA (American Taxpayer Relief Act). The tax changes that took place under the ATRA were quite extensive and affected a lot of 2012 returns. That is what led to the decision to hold a late January opening.
The IRS also made note that taxpayers this year will have several options available for getting their refunds as quickly as possible. There has been new ‘year-end’ tax planning information added onto the IRS.gov website this week.
Additionally, there are a lot of software companies who are anticipating accepting tax returns come January. They will hold on to those tax returns until the exact day of the IRS system opening on the new January 31st date. There will be more extensive details available throughout the month of January.
The IRS wants to caution everyone that it will NOT BE processing any tax returns before their stated date of January 31st. You can gain no advantage by doing your filing on paper any time before this opening date. The fastest returns will go to those who utilize Free File, e-file, or TurboTax 2014, and can take advantage of the direct deposit option.
The deadline date of April 15th has been set, and was done by statute, so it will stay in place. However, any taxpayer who is eligible may request an automatic extension of six months for filing their return. To request this extension, simply fill out a Form 4868, either electronically or on paper.
The updates to the IRS applications, databases, and systems, are done every year. This is done to ensure they reflect the current tax law updates, as well as all business process changes and/or programming updates before the time of the filing season begins.
The closure in October took place during a peak period in regard to IRS system preparations for 2014. There is programming and testing to be done, as well as the deployment of over 50 IRS systems. That’s what it takes to handle the processing of around 150 million tax returns. The updating of these core systems can be extremely complex, and is a process that is on-going all year round. The bulk of this work usually kicks off in the Fall every year.
During the government shutdown, around 90% of the operations within the IRS were closed. Some very major streams of work closed down entirely. That threw the IRS behind by almost 3 weeks behind their solid timetable for being in position to begin the filing season for 2014. They are also dealing with additional programming, testing, and training in terms of their new systems this year. This is for providing protection against refund fraud, as well as identity theft prevention and detection.