Early this (Monday) morning I called the IRS in regard to a notice regarding a client inquiry. The phone line picked up, but there was silence followed by a dial tone. I didn't think anything of it until I called the tax-exempt service line in the afternoon. I was greeted with the following recording:
"Thank you for calling the Internal Revenue Service. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we cannot answer your call at the present time. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please try your call again later."
The words "Circumstances beyond our control" got me thinking. Could the impasse in Washington over the (alleged) debt ceiling be the cause of this? I called the assistance lines for individuals as well as businesses and the messages were the same. My fears became real when the identical message was on the special telephone line for practitioners. The inability to reach the IRS is not a good thing.
If this was the result of the beginning of the month call volume, I would have expected a recording that says your wait time will be between "30 to 45 minutes" or more. Perhaps the reason for the recording was an overall phone system malfunction.
On the other hand, there was no word on the Internet about an IRS shutdown or an impasse on the phone lines.
Draw your own conclusions.
Follow-up: The phone lines are back up and running. I asked an IRS agent what happened. The person asked me what message I heard. After my response ... there was a slight pause followed by an explanation that the entire phone system (nationwide) was down. Question: If the system was down, how were callers able to hear a recorded message? In hindsight, I wish I had called shortly before and after the House passed the debt ceiling bill - just to see whether the system was up.