The IRS has finally announced an official start date for the 2014 filing season: It will start accepting returns on Jan. 31. This date is 10 days later than the originally planned starting date of Jan. 21. “The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing, and systems validation,” said Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in a press release. This process involves programming, testing, and deploying the more than 50 IRS systems that are needed to handle nearly 150 million tax returns.
In October, shortly after the federal government reopened following a 16-day partial shutdown, the IRS announced that the shutdown had slowed its preparations for the upcoming filing season and that it would start accepting returns no earlier than Jan. 28, but no later than Feb. 4. When the IRS announced the delay, it said it hoped to shorten it, but obviously was not successful.
So taxpayers can receive their refunds as quickly as possible, the IRS is encouraging the use of e-file or Free File with direct deposit. The IRS noted that it expects many software companies will begin accepting returns in January and hold them for filing later. It stated that filing a paper return early will not result in as fast a refund because the IRS will not be processing any returns before Jan. 31.
The IRS also explained that the April 15 tax return filing and payment deadline will not be changing because it is mandated by statute, and the Service cannot postpone it, but that six-month extensions to file can be obtained by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, electronically or on paper.
—Sally P. Schreiber (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a JofA senior editor.