SHUTDOWN… Last IRS Agent to Leave, Please Turn off the Lights

For those of you who have been sleeping too much the past few days, let’s wake up and learn a bit about the face-off in Washington DC over the border security wall. Right now, there’s no federal budget in place and funding for many government agencies has disappeared, resulting in partial shutdowns for some, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The lapse in funding was not unexpected and the Treasury Department came up with a contingency plan last month. The plan covers only 5 business days and you can read the full plan here.

If the shutdown continues beyond 5 business days, the IRS human capital officer must re-evaluate things. The officer must then make necessary adjustments – meaning, among other tweaks, further IRS personnel furloughs (this means agents are put on leave of absence without pay).

According to the contingency plan, the 2019 tax filing season should not be affected and certain activities will continue.  These activities include continuing the testing and completion of upcoming filing year programs; processing electronic returns, but only up to the point of refund; processing paper tax returns through a “batching” system, processing tax payments, and maintaining criminal law enforcement operations.

Most IRS activities, though will stop.  Here are some items included on the stop list:  the issuance of refunds (I can see many taxpayer frowns over this), the processing of amended tax returns (Form 1040X), audit functions and examinations of returns (taxpayer smiles over that one!), non-automated collections (again, taxpayer smiles), processing paper tax returns that include tax payments (the IRS wants to make sure it gets your tax dollars); and of course, taxpayer services, such as answering taxpayer questions!  To be honest, in the international arena, I am not sure many taxpayers have found answers to their questions from the IRS… that is, if you could get them to answer the phone beyond a taped message in the first place. I am sad to say, that if the phone was eventually picked up by a human being over at the agency, many of the answers given have been downright wrong. So, for the majority of individuals I see, there will be little or no impact from this particular “shutdown” item.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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