The federal government shutdown is still in effect, but the IRS just got a pass.
Like other federal workers, IRS employees have been furloughed as part of the shutdown. But the IRS announced this past week that it will recall a “significant” share of its employees to work as the 2019 tax season nears.
Here’s what this means for your 2018 tax return — the one you can start filing now:
1. The 2019 tax season starts Jan. 28 — but you can file now
Jan. 28 is the official start date for the 2019 tax season, and the IRS will start processing returns on that date, the agency said in its announcement.
Taxpayers do not have to wait until Jan. 28 to start filing tax returns, however. The IRS explains:
“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.”
Note that the IRS advises that taxpayers file their returns electronically to receive a speedy refund, as well as to minimize errors.
2. The IRS will issue refunds as usual
Despite recent speculation in the media that tax refunds might be delayed due to the government shutdown, the IRS says its recalled employees will be working to issue refunds to taxpayers “as scheduled.”
“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said.
This is a change from past shutdowns. As The New York Times reports:
“Under previous shutdown plans — and interpretations of federal law — the I.R.S. was prohibited from dispensing tax refunds when Congress has not approved money to fund the Treasury Department, as is the case now.”
According to the Times report, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there should be enough employees recalled to handle 60 to 70 percent of phone calls seeking IRS assistance. Those workers will not be paid until the shutdown ends, however, Mnuchin said.
3. Returns are due April 15 for most taxpayers
This past week the IRS also announced the official date for Tax Day 2019. For most taxpayers, returns are due by Monday, April 15.
For those in Maine and Massachusetts, however, returns are not due until April 17 due to regional holidays.
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