Due to the current lapse in appropriations, IRS operations are limited. However, the underlying tax law remains in effect, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal.
Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do so by law. The IRS will accept and process all tax returns with payments, but will be unable to issue refunds during this time.
Taxpayers are urged to file electronically, because most of these returns will be processed automatically.
No live telephone customer service assistance will be available, however most automated toll-free telephone applications will remain operational. IRS walk-in taxpayer assistance centers will be closed.
While the government is closed, people with appointments related to examinations (audits), collection, Appeals or Taxpayer Advocate cases should assume their meetings are cancelled. IRS personnel will reschedule those meetings at a later date.
Automated IRS notices will continue to be mailed. The IRS will not be working any paper correspondence during this period. Here are some basic steps for taxpayers to follow during this period.
How does this affect me?
- You should continue to file and pay taxes as normal. Individuals who requested an extension of time to file should file their returns by Oct. 15, 2013.
- All other tax deadlines remain in effect, including those covering individuals, corporations, partnerships and employers. The regular payroll tax deadlines remain in effect as well.
- You can file your tax return electronically or on paper –– although the processing of paper returns will be delayed until full government operations resume. Payments accompanying paper tax returns will still be accepted as the IRS receives them.
- Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume.
- Tax software companies, tax practitioners and Free File will remain available to assist with taxes.
What IRS services will be available?
- For taxpayers seeking assistance, only the automated applications on the regular 800-829-1040 telephone line will remain open.
- The IRS website, www.IRS.gov, will remain available, although some interactive features may not be available.
- The IRS Free File partners will continue to accept and file tax returns.
- Tax software companies will continue to accept and file tax returns.
All tax deadlines remain in effect, including those covering individuals, corporations, partnerships and employers. The regular payroll tax deadlines remain in effect as well. Penalties and interest still apply for all late filings not received by the regular deadlines.
Will electronically filed returns be processed?
Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do so by law. Taxpayers are urged to file electronically, because most of these returns will be processed automatically. Payments accompanying electronic tax returns will be accepted as the IRS receives them, although the IRS will be unable to issue refunds during this time.
Will paper tax returns be processed?
Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS as they are required to do so by law. However, the processing of paper returns will be delayed until full government operations resume. Payments accompanying paper tax returns will still be accepted as the IRS receives them, though the IRS will be unable to issue refunds during this time.
Will paper tax returns be considered timely filed even though the IRS is not processing paper returns?
Yes. the United States Postal Service is operating during the shutdown, and they will postmark and deliver mail to the IRS. Any return postmarked by the due date will be considered timely filed by the IRS even though processing of the return may not occur until after the return due date depending on the length of the lapse in appropriations.
Can an individual taxpayer obtain a tax transcript during the shutdown?
Yes. This is an automated process. Taxpayers can still use automated tools, including IRS.gov, to request that a transcript of their personal tax records be sent to their address of record; the taxpayer will typically receive transcripts in the mail within five to 10 calendar days.
Can a third party obtain a tax transcript during the shutdown?
No. Transcript requests from third parties require actions by IRS employees, who are not available due to the current lapse in government appropriations. During this period, transcript requests by third parties, such as financial institutions, cannot be processed through the Return and Income Verification Services and Income Verification Express Service. These processes are not automated. However, individuals requesting their own transcripts can use the automated process, which remains available.
Is the IRS continuing to issue levies or liens during this period?
During the lapse in appropriations, the IRS is not sending out levies or liens – either those generated systemically or those manually generated by employees. The IRS notes that taxpayers may still receive levy or lien correspondence with October mailing dates, but those notices were printed before IRS shut down operations were fully complete. (It is standard practice for these notices to be printed with a future date to allow for mailing time to reach taxpayers.) In addition, the IRS notes that other letters related to liens and levies – such as notifications that a taxpayer could potentially be subject to a lien or a levy at a future date – continue to be automatically generated by IRS systems during the appropriations lapse. However, the IRS emphasizes that these notices are not actual levies or liens; just a notification of potential future action.
Are IRS personnel continuing to take enforcement actions during this period?
In non-criminal cases, the only enforcement actions the IRS is taking during the appropriations lapse involve isolated instances where we need to take immediate action to protect the government’s interest. So any enforcement action in this category – such as seizures – would be extremely limited. For example, where the expiration of the statute of limitations on collection action is imminent. For criminal issues, most IRS Criminal Investigation employees continue to work during this period, similar to other federal law-enforcement agencies.
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