Wednesday, October 2, 2013
The first federal government shutdown since 1995-1996 involves the shutdown of many federal government functions that affect taxpayers and tax practitioners.
So what remains open? Under the IRS contingency plan (which only covers the first five days), the IRS will continue processing tax returns that contain remittances and e-filed returns. Employees in the Information Technology Services Enterprise Operations are excepted to ensure “refunds continue to process.” The IRS will also take steps to protect ongoing bankruptcy, lien, and seizure cases in order to prevent statute of limitation lapses. IRS criminal law enforcement and undercover operations also continue. A skeleton staff will maintain the IRS website and the Office of Chief Counsel will be excepted. Federal courts will remain open for approximately 10 business days at which time the judiciary will reassess its situation. The U.S. Postal Service will continue to function and the government will continue mailing Social Security checks.
So what is closed? All IRS taxpayer services have been brought to a stop, such as responding to taxpayer inquiries or processing paper returns not containing remittances. All IRS audits will stop as well as all nonautomated collection activities. All IRS headquarters and administrative functions are shut down, and the IRS will not enter into any new contracts or issue any new purchase orders. The Office of Professional Responsibility is closed, but the Return Preparer Office will remain open. Approximately 86,000 IRS employees has been furloughed.
See Alistair M. Nevius, J.D., How the Government Shutdown Affects Taxpayers and Tax Practitioners, Journal of Accountancy, Oct. 1, 2013.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.