By Daniel Hood
Published January 07 2019, 7∶52pm EST
© Accounting Today

While the ongoing government shutdown had some concerned about a possible delayed start to tax season, the Internal Revenue Service confirmed Monday that it would begin processing tax returns on Jan. 28 – and issuing refunds on a regular schedule.

“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement.

In 2011, the Office of Management and Budget had directed the IRS not to pay out tax refunds during “a lapse in annual appropriations,” but this year, at the request of the Treasury Department, the OMB reviewed the rules and reversed itself.

IRS Commissioner Charles Chuck Rettig
IRS Commissioner Charles "Chuck" Rettig
Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“Tax refunds will go out,” the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, told reporters at a briefing on Monday. (See “IRS will pay refunds during shutdown, easing pressure for a deal.”)

As a result, the IRS will recall what it described as “a significant portion” of its furloughed workers, and plans to release more details in an updated version of its “FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan” in the near future.

“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig in the IRS statement.

The complexity of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was passed in December 2017, but many of who major provisions will only begin to come into play this tax season, had led to concerns that the IRS would not be able to implement it on a timely basis.

The IRS noted that taxpayers who are ready to file can do so as soon as they like; software companies and tax professionals can accept and prepare returns before Jan. 28, and then submit them when the service opens its systems.


Daniel Hood is editor-in-chief of Accounting Today and Tax Pro Today, and has covered the tax and accounting field for over 20 years.

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