The 16-day government shut-down in October created sizable work backlogs at the IRS. The IRS reports that it received 400,000 pieces of correspondence during the closure, and that was in addition to the one million items already being processed prior to the shut-down.
The heavy demand on its services has resulted in the IRS deciding to delay the start of the 2014 filing season. Originally, the start date had been set for January 21, 2014. With the one- to two-week delay just announced by the IRS, the earliest the IRS will accept and process 2013 individual tax returns is January 28, 2014 (or possibly February 4, 2014).
The delay was made necessary, according to the IRS, to allow time to program, test, and validate IRS systems for the 2014 filing season, a job that normally is done during the fall of each year.
There is no delay in the filing deadline for 2013 individual tax returns, however. That deadline is set by law and remains April 15, 2014.