By Patrick Temple-West
WASHINGTON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The start of the 2014 taxfiling season will be postponed by a week or two next year, theU.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said on Tuesday, likelydelaying some tax refunds, as well.
Complications from the 16-day federal government shutdownare the cause, the IRS said, with the 2014 tax season now slatedto start between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, rather than on Jan. 21.
Representative Sander Levin, the top Democrat on thetax-writing U.S. House of Representatives Ways and MeansCommittee, said in a statement: "This is yet another unfortunateeffect of a shutdown that Republicans should have never caused."
The end of the filing season, when tax forms are due intothe IRS, will remain April 15. The IRS made no change to theturnaround time for distributing tax refunds, which taxpayersreceive within 21 days after tax forms are filed.
The government shutdown came during a critical period forpreparing computer filing systems for 2014, the IRS said.
"Readying our systems to handle the tax season is anintricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get itright," said acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel.
The IRS said it will announce in December a final decisionon the exact date for the start of the 2014 filing season.
The delay marks the second year in a row that the IRS hasbeen forced to start the filing season late. In January of thisyear, the 2013 tax season was delayed by the Jan. 2 enactment oftax law changes made to resolve the so-called "fiscal cliff."
A shorter tax season means tax preparation businesses suchas H&R Block Inc and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc will have less time to do their work.
These large tax-preparation companies tend to cater tolower-income individuals, many of whom like to file early to geta tax refund as soon as possible.
"The tax preparers have a game plan for how to deal with"the delay, said Gil Luria, an analyst with investment firmWedbush Securities. He said a two-week delay will notsignificantly hurt the companies' earnings.
An estimated 18 million taxpayers typically file a taxreturn in January, H&R Block spokesman Gene King said. "Thesetaxpayers will be waiting even longer for their refunds," Kingsaid in a statement.
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