Good news from the government shutdown: because of the shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service's 2014 filing start date will be delayed a week or two as the agency gets back up to speed—during the closure, they received 400,000 pieces of mail on top of 1 million that were already being processed. That means that the original start date of January 21 will be pushed back to the 28th at the earliest. The April 15th deadline remains in place.
In a statement, the IRS's Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel stressed the need to make sure the system was technically sound:
"Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right," Werfel said. "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."
The measure certainly makes sense in the wake of growing criticism about the current state of Healthcare.gov.
But, as Bloomberg points out, the delay also closes the window between when taxes can be filed and the next debt ceiling deadline.
Delaying refunds could have an additional consequence in 2014. The U.S. debt limit is suspended through Feb. 7, and changes in the government’s projected spending after that date will affect the timing of how long the Treasury Department’s extraordinary measures to prevent a default will last.
Because the government may issue more refunds after Feb. 7 than previously anticipated, a potential lapse in borrowing authority could come a few days sooner than projected, said Loren Adler, research director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in Washington.
A spokesperson from H&R Block told USA Today that about 18 million people file their tax returns in January. Those who file their tax returns earlier tend to be the ones who receive large refunds. According to Bloomberg, in 2013, the IRS issued $135 billion in refunds between January 30 and March 1, a larger amount than it issued between March 2 and May 10, when it received 50% more returns.