I hate it when I'm right. Cue hubby laughter.
OK, I don't.
But I do hate that my fear of a delayed 2014 tax filing season is coming true.
The Internal Revenue Service announced this afternoon that it won't meet its original Jan. 21, 2014, filing season start date.
The IRS now expects to start accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns no earlier than Jan. 28, 2014. If the tax agency can't make up as much work as it hopes, next year's filing season even could be pushed back to Feb. 4.
A final official, though still likely delayed, season starting date will be announced in December.
And no, the final filing deadline of April 15 (it's on a Tuesday in 2014) won't be pushed back.
Shutdown slowdown: When I fretted last week about a possible delayed filing season, I was worried about another government shutdown in mid-January slowing things down.
But we didn't have to wait that long. All it took was the last shutdown.
In this afternoon's announcement of the late start to filing season, IRS chief Daniel Werfel noted that the 16 days lost to the federal shutdown put a major crimp in the agency's preparations for 2013 returns.
The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season, said Werfel. Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems are required so that the agency can process the nearly 150 million tax returns it expects to receive next year.
Updating these core systems is a year-round process, but the majority of the work begins in the fall of each year. Just about the time Congress decided to close most federal offices, including 90 percent of the IRS' operations.
This work stoppage -- along with around 400,000 pieces of correspondence that arrived on top of 1 million items already in the pre-shutdown queue -- threw the agency nearly three weeks behind its 2014 filing season timetable, said Werfel.
Plus, noted the temporary IRS chief, the agency must conduct additional training, programming and testing of additional refund fraud and identity theft detection and prevention systems that will be in place this coming filing season.
Adjust your withholding now: The delayed 2014 filing season obviously will affect the millions of taxpayers who file early each year because they are expecting refunds.
Not to be all "I told you so," but maybe this latest tax return processing delay will finally convince you to adjust your payroll withholding so that you don't have to rely on the IRS to get your money back.
This is the second straight year that, because of Congress, the IRS has delayed the start of filing season. The agency didn't start accepting returns earlier this year until Jan. 30.
As I nagged noted 10 months ago, such filing season delays are no longer that unusual. Congress has a bad habit of putting off work, particularity tax-related tasks, until the very last minute every year. That slows down IRS system and tax form updates, pushing back filing for us taxpayers.
So head to your payroll office ASAP with a new W-4 that will put more of your money into your final 2013 paychecks instead of into Uncle Sam's hands. If he gets it, you'll have to wait longer next year for him to refund it.
Of course, you could always ask your Representative and Senators to float you a loan, especially if they were in favor of the federal government shutdown.
They did, after all, get their salaries (which come to $174,000 a year) during the 16 days that hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors went without pay.
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