When Is the First Day You Can File Taxes in 2019? IRS Will Recall Furloughed Workers to Help With Returns

For some, tax season isn't even a thought in their mind until April, but for those who prefer to have their refund sooner rather than later, the date to start filing is rapidly approaching.

On Monday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that people can begin filing their taxes on January 28. To help with the processing of returns, the IRS will be recalling a "significant portion" of its employees to come back to work. During the government shutdown, the majority of employees were furloughed.

Once January 28 rolls around, the IRS will begin processing tax returns even if the government is still shut down, as a government shutdown is not an excuse for not filing. Ahead of the start of processing, companies such as TurboTax and H&R Block, as well as, tax professionals will begin preparing returns. So, the agency advised those who have all the necessary documentation and a complete and accurate return to file as soon as they're ready to do so.

While taxpayers can still file a paper return, the IRS strongly encouraged people to submit returns electronically to minimize errors and receive their refund quicker.

Amid the government shutdown, there was speculation that refunds would not be issued until the government reopened. However, the IRS announced that just as processing will continue during the shutdown, so will the issuance of refunds.

"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.

when is the first day you can file taxes
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that people can begin filing their taxes on January 28. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Under the permanent, indefinite appropriation 31 U.S.C. 1324, which was passed by Congress, the IRS explained it has the authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. However, in 2011, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS to not pay refunds during a lapse. At the Treasury's request, the OMB reviewed the law and determined that the IRS can pay tax refunds during a shutdown.

"We have tried to make this as painless as possible consistent with the law," White House OMB Acting Director Russell Vought said on Monday. "Tax refunds will go out."

Since the shutdown began, the IRS has been operating with about 12 percent of its staff, raising concerns about the agency's ability to handle the burden of tax season. However, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal that the recalling of additional employees would enable the IRS to answer 60 to 70 percent of phone calls seeking tax assistance.

Similarly to those who have been working since the shutdown, the employees that are called back to work will not be paid until the shutdown ends.

For most taxpayers, the final day to file tax returns is Monday, April 15. However, taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts will have until April 17 to file. This year, Tax Day falls on the holiday known as, Patriots' Day, which is celebrated in Maine and Massachusetts. The day after, April 16, is Emancipation Day, a holiday in the District of Columbia, so the deadline for those northern taxpayers was pushed back two days.