If you're expecting a big refund when you file your tax return, you'll likely have to wait longer for Uncle Sam to pay up. The IRS needs an extra couple of weeks to get back up to speed following the government shutdown and that means a shorter tax filing season.
The shutdown closed about 90-percent of all IRS operations, so the agency needs the extra time to make sure all its computers are going to be up to the task of processing nearly 150-million returns.
Tax season was scheduled to begin January 21. Because of the shutdown, the startup has been pushed back to January 28, at the earliest and February 4, at the latest.
Taxpayers who file early to get their refunds as quickly as possible will be the first to feel the financial effects of the late start to tax season.
"I don't think it's right that the government shut down and now we're going to end up paying for it in having to wait longer for our tax refunds," Laura Hutmacher of Oacoma, South Dakota said.
"Oh man, it's going to be terrible, just terrible, going to hurt a lot of people," Wayne Davis of Sioux Falls said.
Local tax preparers will have less time to complete their clients' forms. But they don't expect a big backlog of paperwork from the delay.
"We're open 12 hours, six days a week and noon to five on Sundays so generally speaking we're able to handle the workflow, but it does produce a little bit of a burden having the condensed season," Ness Tax & Bookkeeping Service owner Tim Ness said.
Ness says as soon as you get all your tax documents in the mail, it's still a good idea to schedule an appointment to get those returns prepared. They just can't file them right away.
"There's a little extra housekeeping we need to take care of because we can't file the return right away but then we always call our clients and let them know that we did file their returns on the proposed date," Ness said.
The IRS won't know for sure until December when it can start processing returns. So, filers will have to include patience along with their paperwork.
"It's things that are out of our control, so we just have to learn to roll with the punches," Ness said.
The late start to tax season won't be a benefit to procrastinators. You still have to file by the traditional April 15 deadline.