Two weeks into the federal government’s shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service’s Oct. 15 extension deadline to file returns remains in effect.
Despite uncertainty when Washington will get back to normal, taxpayers need to also adhere to all IRS requirements, such as scheduled payments.
The IRS issued a statement on Oct. 8 that the current lapse in federal appropriations does not affect the federal tax law, and reminded taxpayers that they need to continue to meet all their tax obligations.
Here’s a summary of how the shutdown is impacting IRS operations and taxpayers since Oct. 1 when the government shutdown began:
• All deadlines covering individuals, corporations, partnerships and employers remain in effect
• Regular payroll tax deadlines remain in effect as well
• Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume
• Actual levies or liens will not be sent out during the shutdown, although there might be a notification of future action
• Previously scheduled IRS-related appointments related to examinations or audits have been cancelled and will be rescheduled once the shutdown is over
• Taxpapers should file Oct. 15 extension returns electronically; there is no one to accept hand delivered returns at IRS offices
• IRS “Free File” partners – tax software vendors who partner with the IRS to provide free tax prep and processing for taxpayers with family incomes up to $57,000 – will continue to accept and file returns
• Electronic payments still can be made either online or phone through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System by electronic funds withdrawal using a credit or debit card.
• However, checks from taxpayers to the IRS can be mailed, and can accompany paper tax returns
• U.S. Tax Court in Washington, D.C., is closed; visit www.ustaxcourt.gov for developments
• The IRS website www.irs.gov remains open, although some interactive features may not be available
• An individual may request a tax transcript through the automated system, but not third parties. The transcript should be received by the requesting individual within 5 to 10 calendar days
• No live telephone customer assistance is available
• Most automated telephone assistance (i.e., recorded information) is functional
• IRS walk-in taxpayer assistance centers are closed
• Taxpayers who do not file their returns by Oct. 15 after requesting an extension will be subjected to the late-filing penalty of 5% per month
The IRS pointed out that of the nearly 141.6 million returns received by the agency so far this year, 83.5% were electronically filed.
Since the Oct. 1 shutdown, the IRS has had only 8,700 of its 94,500 employees – or 9.3% – reporting to work, with the rest of them on furlough.
Accounting Today reported on Sept. 30 that the IRS’s 61-page contingency plan was based on the assumption that the shutdown would last 5 days.
To read that article, see: http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/irs-releases-government-shutdown-contingency-plan-68212-1.html.
As of Oct. 11, there was no word whether the IRS has re-assessed how its operations would continue.
The IRS stated on its website that enforcement related to criminal matters will continue business as usual. However, in non-criminal cases, enforcement such as a seizure would be “extremely limited” during the shutdown.