Update: You can now submit your 2013 Federal returns for processing.

As of Jan. 6, 2014, according to the Internal Revenue Service, the accepting and processing of 2013 Federal tax returns should begin Jan. 28, but it may be as late as Feb. 4, 2014. The cited reason for the delay is the 16-day federal government closure. According to Danny Werfel, acting IRS commissioner:  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. 

According to an IRS news release, the government shutdown occurred while the agency was preparing its systems for the 2014 tax season. The IRS reports that it was in the middle of programming, testing and deploying more than 50 IRS systems to process the 150 million 2013 tax returns expected. During the shutdown, about 90 percent of the IRS operations were placed on hold, delaying the tax season by two to three weeks.



How Can I Know When to File My 2013 Tax Return?
You can check with your tax preparer or CPA. Popular tax services such as H&R Block and TurboTax should also be able to keep you updated. Additionally, the IRS website will also post delay information in the  News Releases  section. The best strategy for those anxious about receiving their refund as soon as possible is to have their return filled out early and ready to submit as soon as the IRS starts accepting them.

My Online Tax Service Seems to Be Working. So, I Can File, Right?
Not necessarily. Most tax services will allow you to create your account and prepare your returns. However, when you finish the task and are ready to submit, it will stop you there and tell you that you cannot submit your return until a certain date. Most are going to try to gain your business as soon as possible and get the process going so you can submit your returns quickly later.

Are There Advantages to Preparing My Return Early?
Most tax services will allow you to fill out your forms online before the IRS is actually processing. One advantage is that you can submit them as quickly as possible once the IRS is accepting, and beat out the millions who wait until later to prepare their returns. It will also give you a little extra time if you find you are missing some information. Once you go through the process, you should know if you failed to collect some needed numbers such as student loan interest paid, medical expenses or daycare expenses. Using an online service, you can easily log in later to add additional W-2s and such as they come in. According to the IRS, there is no advantage to attempting to submit returns early by paper, since they will not be processed any faster than e-filed returns. 

Will the Final Day for Submitting Returns Be Extended?
As you might have already guessed, no. Returns are still due by April 15. However, if you prepare your returns now, you will have time to save up for a tax payment, if required. 

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