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2019 Tax Season Finally Gets a Start Date

After Trump administration officials said on Jan. 7 that the IRS would send out tax refunds during the partial government shutdown, the agency took to Twitter last night to announce the start date for the 2019 tax-filing season:

The IRS usually announces the start date of the upcoming tax season in late December, but the pissing match between President Trump and Democratic leaders over whether “The Wall” was Pink Floyd’s best album, or something like that, which has now entered its 18th day, put that announcement on hold.

The Office of Management and Budget had ruled several years ago that the IRS could not send out tax refunds during a government shutdown, but it changed its mind yesterday at the Treasury Department’s request.

So, how is this all going to happen with no end to the shutdown in sight? Bernie Becker of Politico wondered the same thing:

Among those desiring more information: The Senate Finance Committee, which is expected to get a briefing in the coming days on IRS operations during the shutdown, according to a panel aide.

It’s been clear for a while that the IRS would have to bring a significant amount of furloughed employees back to work – for no pay, at least for now – to make the filing season work. What’s unclear is just how many more staffers the IRS will need, at a time when seven out of every eight are at home.

Treasury is expected to circulate within the next several days a new shutdown contingency plan, which will shift the IRS to filing season footing and should spell out how much of the agency will have to come back to the office. … The IRS’s fiscal 2018 filing season contingency plan, under which refunds wouldn’t have been sent out, would have had 43.5 percent of employees back on the job.

In a press release, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said the agency is “committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown.”

Individual income tax returns are due on Monday, April 15, unless you live in Maine or Massachusetts; thanks to the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, residents of those two states have until Wednesday, April 17, to file their returns.