- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The IRS said this week it is delaying the start of the tax filing season, leading Republicans to argue that the agency is putting its focus on implementing Obamacare at the expense of helping average taxpayers.

The IRS blamed the government shutdown, saying that when it furloughed 90 percent of its employees it lost too many work days to begin processing returns on time in January.

But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said the IRS this year was able to begin processing returns on time despite major changes to tax laws in the “fiscal cliff” deal Congress and President Obama reached at the New Year. This year, there have been no major tax law changes, Mr. Camp said.

“While the IRS says it cannot start the filing season on time, somehow it found the most essential operation to be the implementation of the president’s health care law,” Mr. Camp said. “The IRS needs to explain why implementing the president’s health care law is more important than processing tax returns in a timely manner.”

He has sent a letter demanding IRS acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel explain how the agency has set its priorities, and demanding to know whether the White House or Treasury Department signed off on the decision to delay the tax season.

The IRS said this delay was different, though.

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“With late tax law changes, the vast majority of core programming and systems work had been completed in the months leading up to the legislation being passed in December or later. The government shutdown delay in early October coincided with a crucial period for building our new systems for the filing season starting in 2014,” the agency said in a statement.

The delay could affect millions of taxpayers who get an early jump on filing their taxes in order to get their refunds faster.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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