The 2014 filing season will open on January 31. This means that the IRS will begin to accept returns on this date but not before. The IRS will use the remaining time in January to program and test its tax processing systems. IRS systems, applications and databases must be updated annually to reflect tax law updates, business process changes and programming updates in time for the start of the filing season. The annual process for updating IRS systems saw significant delays in October following the 16-day federal government closure.
The government shutdown forced the IRS to change the original opening date from January 21 to January 31, 2014, but this date is only one day later than the 2013 filing season opening, which started on January 30, 2013. The extensive set of ATRA tax changes passed in early January 2013 affected many 2012 tax returns, which led to the late January opening.
The IRS noted that several options are available to help taxpayers prepare for the 2014 tax season and get their refunds as easily as possible and cautioned that it will not process any tax returns before Jan. 31, so there is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date. Taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by e-filing with the direct deposit option.
The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place. However, the IRS reminds taxpayers that anyone can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return. Your tax preparer can do this easily.
The October closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season. Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns. Updating these core systems is a complex, year-round process with the majority of the work beginning in the fall of each year.
About 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown, with some major work streams closed entirely during this period, putting the IRS nearly three weeks behind its tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season. There are additional training, programming and testing demands on IRS systems this year in order to provide additional refund fraud and identity theft detection and prevention.
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