The 2014 tax filing season will open Jan. 31, and the Internal Revenue Service is encouraging taxpayers to use e-file or Free File, which it says are the fastest ways to receive refunds.
The new opening date for individuals to file their 2013 tax returns will allow the IRS adequate time to program and test its tax processing systems, the agency said in a release. The annual process for updating IRS systems was delayed in October following the 16-day federal government shutdown.
"The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems validation," IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said in the release. " It’s a complex process, and our bottom-line goal is to provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers.”
The government closure meant the IRS had to change the original opening date from Jan. 21 to Jan. 31. The 2014 date is one day later than the 2013 filing season opening.
New tax planning information has been added to IRS.gov.
Many software companies are expected to begin accepting tax returns earlier in January and hold those returns until the IRS systems open on Jan. 31.
The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute. However, taxpayers can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return. The request is done with Form 4868, which can be filed electronically or on paper.
The October shutdown 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, the agency said.The shutdown put the IRS nearly three weeks behind its timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season, the agency said. There are additional training, programming and testing demands on IRS systems this year to help prevent refund fraud and identity theft.