For millions of taxpayers, filing taxes for 2014 involves some
late nights in early April to get their returns in at the last
possible moment. But if you have a refund coming, you'll want to
file as early as possible. Unfortunately, for the second year in
a row, the IRS has had to delay the beginning of the 2014 tax
filing season, meaning that you won't be able to start filing
taxes as soon as you might have hoped. Let's look at the details
and see when you can expect to file next year.
The shutdown and your taxes
Back in October, the Internal Revenue Service decided to delay
the beginning of the 2014 tax season, citing the after-effects of
the government shutdown as costing the agency critical time in
making the necessary preparations to start accepting returns on
its original schedule. Originally, the IRS had looked to begin
accepting returns by Jan. 21, but acting IRS Commissioner Danny
Werfel suggested that a one- to two-week delay would result in
having people filing taxes for 2014 no earlier than Jan. 28, with
a potential start date as late as Feb. 4.
At the time, the IRS said it would announce a final schedule
during December. Yet with the month half over already, no
schedule is yet available.
The nightmare of 2013
Delays in filing taxes for 2014 aren't all that surprising for
many taxpayers, who endured similar problems when they filed
their 2012 tax returns earlier this year. Because of the late
resolution to the fiscal cliff, which made major modifications to
many key tax laws, the IRS imposed an eight-day delay on filers
in 2013, starting the tax season for most on Jan. 30.
While 120 million filers were able to start filing their
returns on that date, millions of others who had certain special
tax issues had to wait much longer. For instance, more complex
changes to provisions involving education credits, residential
energy credits, property depreciation, and general business
credits led to more difficulty for the IRS. As a result, those
claiming education credits had to wait until the middle of
February to file. Returns with depreciation deductions had to
wait until Feb. 10, and those with energy or general business
credits couldn't file until March 4.
This year's delays shouldn't be nearly as long. The changes to
tax laws aren't as extensive as they were last year, thus
requiring fewer modifications to forms and publications. Yet even
a delay of a week or two in getting refunds could have an impact
on retailers that count on refund-driven consumption, adding to
the impact that the government shutdown has already had on
No matter when tax season starts, the best practices for filing
taxes in 2014 remain the same. Using more efficient methods like
electronic filing and direct deposit will get you your refund as
soon as possible. The IRS has said that it anticipates putting
the vast majority of refunds in taxpayers' hands within 21 days
of filing. Hopefully that should be fast enough to satisfy most
of the millions of taxpayers who will receive refunds this
Be smart about your taxes
Having to wait for filing taxes in 2014 is annoying, but there
are other ways you can try to make your tax season go more
smoothly. In our brand-new special report "
How You Can Fight Back Against Higher Taxes
How You Can Fight Back Against Higher Taxes," The Motley Fool's
tax experts run through what to watch out for in doing your tax
planning this year. With its concrete advice on how to cut
taxes for decades to come, you won't want to miss out.
Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.
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