How the Government Shutdown Affected the IRS

Unless you’ve been vacationing in the islands of Bora Bora for a month, you’re probably aware of the record-breaking, 35 day federal government shutdown that recently ended…for now. President Trump and the democratic party reached a temporary spending deal that will allow the government to open for continued negotiation of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, the root of this D.C. drama.

One highly publicized casualty of the shutdown involved more than 800,000 government employees living without two paychecks in a row. What you might not be aware of is just how gravely the shutdown affected IRS operations. About five million pieces of mail were neglected, according to CBS’s Nancy Cordes. Several staff members chose to bypass the uncertainty of their next paycheck and quit their jobs without hesitation. Consequently, the IRS is having difficulty responding to all requests it received. Sources have confirmed that it could realistically take more than a year for the IRS to get back on their feet. “It’s going to be a massive catch up at this point,” claims Michelle Harris of the IRS.

“If the government shutdown only lasted 35 days, then why will it take a year for the IRS to recover?” you might be wondering. The specifics are broken down in this article but we are happy to summarize it for you. During the shutdown period, in-person assistance centers and phone lines were closed. All five million inquiries had to be sent via U.S. mail. In order to accommodate the increased workload, the only viable solution would be to hire three times the amount of existing IRS employees. Let us formally establish that the chances of the government increasing IRS budget, let alone funding additional employees, are slim to none. Not to mention the loss of 25 information technology staff members servicing the dated online systems (some dating back to the Kennedy era) further slowing down operations. You should not expect a quick response from the IRS on any new matters. Expect delays. Realistically, it will only get worse from this point forward.

Due to these possible delays, it is advisable to engage the IRS sooner rather than later so you can “get in line” with your request.  It is also important to make sure your request will resolve your tax matter as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you have engage in substantial back-and-forth with the IRS, it could cause resolution of a matter to be delayed even further.  Better yet, why handle communication with the IRS on your own? We are seasoned tax professionals who are happy to help you resolve a tax problem you may have. To schedule a free strategy session our tax attorneys, please call contact us.