How the Federal Government Shutdown Affects Your Tax Matters

By Jeffrey J. Owen

Regardless of your politics, the government shutdown (or “slimdown” as some are calling it) has affected IRS operations. While we all wait for the government to reopen, taxpayers and practitioners are left in the lurch. So what are we to do when the phone is ringing at the IRS, but nobody is home? The IRS issued some helpful information recently in a Q&A.

1. KEEP FILING—Don’t let your return filings lapse the way the federal government may allow its borrowing power to lapse in a few days. The IRS actually will be checking postmarks when they reopen to make sure your return was “timely filed.”

2. KEEP PAYING—The IRS is open enough to accept your tax payments and deposits, whether made electronically or by check. We are told that the processing of paper returns will be delayed, so make sure that you designate your tax payments by jotting on the memo line the tax return and period the taxes are supposed to credit toward. An example is: “SSN #123-45-6789 2012 1040 tax only.”

3. FORGET APPOINTMENTS—If you have an appointment with the IRS, don’t bother to show up. All offices are closed. Your agent will call you when he gets back in the office following his/her paid vacation to reschedule.

4. OPEN COLLECTION LETTERS—Despite the shutdown, automated collections processes continue via computer. You will still receive your nastygrams from the IRS even though they are not equipped to answer your questions about your alleged underpayment.

5. DON’T BOTHER TO CALL—The 800 numbers are all disconnected except for the delightful automated phone advice tree 800-829-1040 for individuals. In other words, don’t expect to speak to a real human until the government reopens.

This blog post is neither intended as legal advice nor to create an attorney client relationship. For help with your tax case, contact Murphy Fletcher at McGuire Wood & Bissette P.A., 828-254-8800.

For a copy of the Q&A, see: