Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019, and will provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.
“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.
Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (codified at 31 U.S.C. § 1324), and the IRS takes the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, according to the IRS, OMB has reviewed the relevant law and concluded that IRS may in fact pay tax refunds during a lapse.
The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, back to work. Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.
The IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.
The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019, for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019, to file their returns. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.