With much angst generated by the current government shutdown, taxpayers have been pounded with a mainstream news outlets suggesting that income tax refunds will be late and that the shutdown is going to add a great deal of challenge in the coming income tax return filing season. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says all is well in a recent release.
Despite the government shutdown, the IRS confirmed that it will begin processing income tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and will refund overpayments to taxpayers as scheduled.
In making the announcement, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated, “We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period.”
Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.
The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce. As a result of the partial shutdown, 70,000 or 87.5 percent of its employee headcount are currently furloughed.
Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.
As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file.
The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.
Software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 28 and then will submit the returns when the IRS systems open later this month. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.
A complete copy of Internal Revenue Service IR-2019-01 is available on the Internal Revenue Service website.