IRS: Tax Refunds Suspended until Shutdown Is Over

By Jason Bramwell
 
Because of the federal government shutdown, the IRS will be unable to issue tax refunds until the stalemate in Congress is over, but the agency reiterated that all taxpayers should continue to meet their normal tax obligations.
 
In a post on its website on October 1, the IRS stated that individuals and businesses should continue filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS. October 15 is the deadline for many of the more than twelve million taxpayers who requested an automatic six-month extension from the IRS to file their 2012 tax returns and make payments. Despite the shutdown, that deadline remains unchanged.
 
"The IRS will accept and process all tax returns with payments but will be unable to issue refunds during this time," the IRS said. "Taxpayers are urged to file electronically because most of these returns will be processed automatically."
 

How Does Federal Shutdown Affect Taxpayers?

The IRS provided the following basic steps that taxpayers should follow during the shutdown:
  • Taxpayers should continue to file and pay taxes as normal. Individuals who requested an extension of time to file should file their returns by October 15, 2013.
  • All other tax deadlines remain in effect, including those covering individuals, corporations, partnerships, and employers. The regular payroll tax deadlines also remain in effect.
  • Taxpayers can file their tax returns electronically or on paper  although the processing of paper returns will be delayed until full government operations resume. Payments accompanying paper tax returns will still be accepted as the IRS receives them.
  • Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume.
  • Tax software companies, tax practitioners, and Free File will remain available to assist with taxes.
The IRS also provided a list of services that will be available, albeit limited, until the shutdown is over:
  • For taxpayers seeking assistance, only the automated applications on the regular (800) 829-1040 telephone line will remain open.
  • The IRS website will remain online, although some interactive features may not be available.
  • IRS Free File partners as well as tax software companies will continue to accept and file tax returns.
 
Because Congress failed to reach an agreement on government funding legislation, the federal government officially shut down at midnight eastern time on October 1. As a result, more than 85,000 IRS employees are now furloughed, halting the majority of services at the IRS.
 
In preparation for a possible shutdown, the IRS on September 26 released a shutdown contingency plan that describes agency actions and activities for up to five business days during the shutdown. If the shutdown lasts longer than five business days, the deputy commissioner for operations support will reassess IRS activities and make any needed adjustments to personnel. 
 
According to the IRS, no live telephone customer service assistance will be available; however, most automated toll-free telephone applications will remain operational. IRS walk-in Taxpayer Assistance Centers will be closed.
 
While federal government offices are closed, people with appointments related to examinations (audits), tax collection, and appeals or Taxpayer Advocate Service cases should assume their meetings are cancelled. IRS personnel will reschedule those meetings at a later date.
 
During the shutdown, automated IRS notices will continue to be mailed; however, the agency will not be working on any paper correspondence during this period.
 
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