Personal Finance

IRS delays opening of tax filing season to Jan. 31

The Internal Revenue Service will delay the start of the 2014 tax filing season until Jan. 31 because it needs time to program and test its tax processing systems.

The agency said the 16-day partial federal government shutdown in October over the budget meant it could not meet its original deadline to start processing returns on Jan. 21, 2014.

“The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems validation,” Daniel Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, said in a statement.

The IRS indicated in October that the processing of returns could be delayed.

About 90 percent of the IRS was closed in October because of the budget talks, putting it nearly three weeks behind its peak period for preparations, the agency said.

This is not the first time government gridlock has delayed the start of tax filing season. The 2013 tax filing season was delayed until Jan. 30 this year because of late changes in tax laws passed by Congress.

Taxpayers still must file returns by April 15, and companies must send out W-2 and other income tax forms on schedule, typically by Jan. 31.

The IRS said that, as usual, taxpayers who file electronically will get their refunds more quickly than those who file by mail.

H&R Block, the Kansas City-based tax preparation giant, said all of its tax offices would open as scheduled on Jan. 6 and its online tax assistance program is available now for downloading.

“We know, for many taxpayers, there will be no reason to wait to prepare their returns,” the company said in a statement.