History is being made today as the federal government enters a partial shutdown. What does this mean for any upcoming tax deadlines and tax payments that may be due? Some are rejoicing that the government will not be able to process their returns or payments. But think again, as the IRS will remain operational, though on a very minimal scale.

A special edition of IRS E-News was sent to tax practitioners this morning stating that “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.”

There will be some notable changes during these limited operations. The IRS will be operating with less than 10% of their normal staffing.

  • There will be no live telephone assistance.
  • IRS walk-in offices will be closed.
  • People with appointments related to audits or appeals should assume their meetings are cancelled. The IRS will reschedule those meetings when the government reopens.
  • All audits are on hold during the shutdown.
  • Processing of paper filed returns will be delayed.
  • Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume.
  • Tax payments sent to the IRS will still be processed without delay.

Anything automated will continue, such as the automated telephone applications, e-file, and the IRS website. The IRS will continue to mail automated notices, though will not respond to any correspondence they receive.

If you are expecting a refund, be prepared to have that delayed. Even when government operations resume, it will likely take the IRS some time to catch up from any backlog arising from the items left undone during the shutdown.

The bottom line here is that you should approach your tax filings and tax payments as normal, and hope you do not need IRS assistance as there will be NONE during this shutdown. This is truly a situation of the lights are on, with nobody home.