Americans might have to wait longer for their refund checks this year as the Internal Revenue Service plans on delaying the tax-filing season by up to two weeks because of the government shutdown that ended last week.
The agency will need one to two additional weeks to adequately test and program its tax processing systems, an annual practice that was interrupted by the 16-day shutdown.
"Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process
, and we must take the time to get it right," Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement.
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Originally scheduled to begin Jan. 21, the tax-filing season could be pushed back to no earlier than Jan. 28. The actual length of the delay will be announced in December, but the official tax deadline of April 15, which is set by statute, will remain in place.
"The adjustment to the start of the filing season provides us the necessary time to program, test, and validate our systems so that we can provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation's taxpayers," Werfel said. "We want the public and tax professionals to know about the delay well in advance so they can prepare for a later start of the filing season."
Republicans are reportedly skeptical of the need for the tax season delay, the Washington Post reported.
"Considering the IRS has dealt with much larger changes on far shorter notice over the past years without delay, its reasons are suspect," Sarah Swinehart, a spokeswoman for House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), told the Post.
Democrats took the tax season delay announcement as an opportunity to point fingers.
"This is yet another unfortunate effect of a shutdown that Republicans should have never caused," Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) said in a statement. "The entirety of the shutdown’s harmful impact won't be known for months, if not longer. But what is already clear is that it has cost our economy tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs. This tax-filing delay just adds insult to injury for Americans hoping to get a jump start on their tax refunds in January."
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