AICPA Creates Q&A Page to Help Practitioners During Shutdown

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By Jason Bramwell
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has created a questions-and-answers page on the tax section portion of its website to help practitioners working to complete tax returns during the federal government shutdown.
On the web page, which is current as of October 1, the AICPA has listed sixteen questions with answers about the government shutdown and how it will impact the IRS, tax practitioners, and taxpayers. 
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 contingency plan, the following activities will cease during the shutdown:
  • Audit activities
  • Operation of taxpayer services and centers
  • Operation of the Practitioner Priority Service
  • Processing of paper returns that do not require remittance
  • Refunds
However, the October 15 deadline given to 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 will not be affected by the shutdown.
According to the AICPA, the closure of taxpayer and practitioner hotlines is particularly challenging for those individuals who must file a Form 1040 by October 15 and need to contact the IRS. The plan does authorize several functions to continue, including the following:
  • Processing electronic returns
  • Building security
  • Certain computer operations
  • Criminal law enforcement
  • Protection of bankruptcy, lien, and seizure cases
Guidance from the AICPA is subject to change as additional information on the shutdown is received.
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