The IRS is open again for business—at least until February 15, when another government shutdown looms if the ongoing debate over border security isn’t resolved.
In the meantime, returns are being processed, refunds are going out, and the agency is resuming certain other activities. According to the latest posting on its website on February 1, here’s how operations will be functioning:
Audits: These were put on hold during the government shutdown in January. The IRS is directing taxpayers and tax professionals with questions about examinations to access Frequently Asked Questions.
Collections: Similarly, the IRS is asking taxpayers and tax professionals with a collection issue affected by the shutdown to visit this FAQ page. This section includes information related to liens, levies, notices of deficiency, penalties, passports and private debt collection.
Appeals: As with audits, no work on appeals was done during the shutdown. You can find important information about appeals here.
Tax filing: The IRS claims it successfully opened the 2019 tax filing season on January 28. It is ensuring the public that it doing everything it can to provide a smooth tax season and minimize the impact of the shutdown on taxpayers.
Tax Court: Important information for taxpayers and tax professionals with Tax Court cases— including mail being returned and issues with court petitions not being processed—can be found here.
Taxpayer Advocate Services: All Taxpayer Advocate Services (TAS) offices are now open. But the IRS says the TAS needs some more time to sort through all its cases, calls and faxes so that it can address the most critical emergencies first. If you call an office, you will likely reach voicemail. Plus, response times will be longer than usual.
Determination letters for retirement plans: The IRS has resumed processing these applications for retirement plans. Again, you can expect delays due to the shutdown.
Determination letter applications for tax-exempt status: The IRS is again processing applications for tax-exempt status. Visit this page for actions you need to take while you wait for the agency to issue a determination.
Clearly, it is not yet “business as usual” at the nation’s tax collection agency. It will take time for the IRS to catch up, and another shutdown will only make matters worse. Stay tuned.
Ken Berry, Esq., is a nationally known writer and editor specializing in tax, financial, and legal matters. During his long career, he has served as managing editor of a publisher of content-based marketing tools and vice president of an online continuing education company. As a freelance writer, Ken has authored thousands of articles for a...