The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers not to believe reports circulating on the internet about a start date for the 2018 tax filing season, insisting it has not yet chosen a start date, and is waiting to see what Congress does with tax legislation.

“The IRS has not yet announced a date that it will begin accepting individual tax returns for the 2018 tax filing season,” said the IRS. “At the present time, the IRS is continuing to update its programming and processing systems for 2018. In addition, the IRS continues to closely monitor potential legislation that could affect the 2018 tax season, including a number of ‘extender’ tax provisions that expired at the end of 2016 that could potentially be renewed for tax year 2017 by Congress.”

The IRS is expecting it won’t be at a point of announcing a filing season start date until later this year. It plans to continue to work closely with tax professionals and tax software companies as preparations continue for next year’s tax filing season.

“Speculation on the Internet that the IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 22 or after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday in January is inaccurate and misleading; no such date has been set,” said the IRS.

The IRS is also cautioning taxpayers against relying on misleading refund charts on the internet that project tax refund dates. “Any speculation about refund dates in 2018 is premature,” said the IRS. “In addition, these refund charts can overlook that many different factors affect the timing of tax refunds, ranging from the accuracy of information on the return to whether a taxpayer files electronically. In addition, the IRS and state revenue departments have increased their security protocols against identity theft and refund fraud, which also can affect the timing of federal and state refunds.”

IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The tax legislation might have an impact on next tax season. "If they get it passed this year, it’s going to have a significant impact on tax season," said Bill Smith, managing director of CBIZ MHM and leader of its National Tax Office. "It will depend in large part on how quickly the IRS can get their forms revised and their instructions revised, and whether the tax accounting services that professionals use can get up to speed quickly. It’s probably more likely to push back the amount of work that can get done in the first tax season to the second tax season because they can’t change the filing deadline without more legislation. So you’re just going to have to extend because no one’s going to know or have the wherewithal to do any work early."

Dean Zerbe, a former senior counsel to the Senate Finance Committee and currently national managing director of alliantgroup, disagrees. "Almost every effective date, except for housing, seems to be for an effective tax year after 2017, so I don’t think they’re looking at doing much at horsing with this year’s filing season," he said.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.