The Internal Revenue Service has updated its website to provide information regarding available services since the government shut down on October 1, 2013. The IRS advises the taxpaying public that its current operations are “limited,” but warns that “the underlying tax law remains in effect, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal.” This is especially important given the upcoming October 15 filing deadline for individual tax returns on extension.
Here is a summary of current IRS operations:
1. 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. 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.
2. Paper tax returns will be considered timely filed even though the IRS is not processing paper returns. The United States Postal Service is operating during the shutdown, and 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.
3. 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. Penalties and interest still apply for all late filings not received by the regular deadlines.
4. 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. The IRS website (www.IRS.gov) will remain available, although some interactive features may not be available.
5. Taxpayers with appointments related to audits, collection, Appeals, or Taxpayer Advocate cases should assume their meetings are cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date.
6. Automated IRS notices will continue to be mailed, but the IRS says that it “will not be working any paper correspondence during this period.”
7. Taxpayers can obtain tax transcripts during the shutdown, using automated tools, including www.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. Note, however, that 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.