Shutdown Fallout: Delayed Tax Refunds IRS to start processing returns later By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Oct 23, 2013 4:39 AM CDT 36 comments Comments Around 90% of IRS employees were out during the shutdown. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) (Newser) – Internal Revenue Service workers are back from furlough with news that might annoy on-the-ball taxpayers: The agency says the government shutdown will delay the date when it begins processing tax returns by as much as two weeks, meaning refunds won't arrive as promptly as usual for millions of early filers, USA Today reports. Rather than getting going on Jan. 21, the IRS will begin between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4. The April 15 cutoff date, however, hasn't changed. The IRS says the delay is because the "government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season," and it is behind on programming and testing some 50 such systems. Further, its backlog of correspondence grew by 400,000 items during the shutdown. The IRS has more changes than usual to deal with for the upcoming tax season, including gay couples filing federal returns as married couples for the first time.