The IRS this evening issued a release confirming that the IRS will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019, and that it intends to provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.
The IRS release—IR-2019-01—explains that Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. section 1324), and that the position of the IRS is that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations.
The IRS release further explains that in 2011, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a government shutdown (funding lapse); however, this evening's IRS release states that OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and has concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.
According to the IRS release:
The IRS 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 FY 2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.
The IRS release continues to explain that, as in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019, for most individual 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 release concludes with a statement that “strongly encourages” taxpayers file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.
The IRS subsequently announced in a transmittal message (Modernized e-File) that it will begin accepting all individual tax returns on January 28, 2019.
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