On the heals of the 16-day government shut-down earlier this month, the IRS has now announced that it will not begin accepting 2013 federal income tax returns until January 31, 2014 at the earliest.
IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said, “readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right. 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. 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.”
The IRS urges that there will be no advantage to paper-filing your tax returns rather than waiting for e-filing to become available. As always, even with the delay, e-filing with direct deposit will be quickest way to get a refund.
The IRS has released the per diem rates that will apply to reimbursements paid to employees on or after October 1, 2013 for travel away from home. The rates for 2013-2014 are:
$251 for travel to any high-cost locality, of which $65 is considered meals.
$170 for travel to any other CONUS locality, of which $52 is considered meals.
The rate for incidental expense only is $5.
For details and a list of high-cost localities, see IRS Publication 2013-65.
The IRS initiates radio silence as the October 15 due date looms less than two weeks away for individuals who requested a 6-month extension of time to file their 2012 income tax returns. Essentially all IRS services will be unavailable until government operations resume.
During this time "no live telephone customer service assistance will be available" and "walk-in taxpayer assistance centers will be closed." However, for those masochists out there, the automated telephone system will still be available. As if that is some kind of consolation.
The IRS has been kind enough to remind us that although the current budget crisis has sent much of the IRS on an indefinite hiatus, your tax obligations are afforded no such luxury. From irs.gov:
"Due to the current lapse in appropriations, IRS operations are limited. However, the underlying tax law remains in effect, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal.
Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do so by law. The IRS will accept and process all tax returns with payments, but will be unable to issue refunds during this time."