Buy-here, pay-here dealers who already delivered vehicles based on expected federal tax refunds likely let out a collective sigh of relief stemming from an announcement the Internal Revenue Service made late on Monday.
Despite the government shutdown, the IRS confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning Jan. 28 and 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,” IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig said.
The IRS explained Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS said it has consistently been of 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, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.
The IRS indicated that it will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, 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.
“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,” Rettig said.
As in past years, 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, officials there is no need to wait to file.
“They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return,” the IRS said.
The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is April 15 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 to file their returns.
Software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 28 and then will submit the returns when the IRS systems open later this month.
“The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds,” officials said.