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  • Jamee Mitchell EA

IRS Recalls Half of it's Workforce During Shutdown

January 15th is traditionally the date that the IRS starts accepting returns. A delayed start date was expected this year due to the significant tax law changes; however, this problem has been compounded by what has now become the longest Federal Government shutdown in history. Federal employees deemed “essential” are exempt from furlough and have continued to work during the shutdown. IRS leadership used this loophole to classify 57.4 percent of its 80,000 workers as “essential,” allowing them to report for duty during the shutdown to ensure a timely start to the filing season. These employees will be paid for their work, but not until the government reopens.

This means that the filing of most tax returns will be relatively normal, with the IRS beginning to accept returns on Monday, January 28th.

Specifically, the recalled IRS employees will be performing the following activities:

Running the E-File system

Processing paper tax returns

Issuing refunds

Opening call sites to assist taxpayers

Limited response to correspondence including:

Injured spouse claims

Claims for disaster relief

Abatement requests

Noticeably absent from the list is the processing of Power of Attorney forms, which directly affects our work as Enrolled Agents. The auditing process also seems to be on hold however we have found that the IRS has continued to issue levies against taxpayers who they believe owe back taxes.

Surviving the shutdown will be a non-issue for most Americans. Due dates will continue to be enforced as normal so be sure to meet all required filing deadlines and, as with any government dealings, be sure to document your interactions so that there will be a paper trail of proof should questions ever arise.

The American people have always excelled at meeting our challenges with panache. We don’t say this often, but our hats are off to the IRS employees for their ingenuity and sacrifice in maintaining a semblance of normalcy while our elected officials continue their childish games. The takeaway hopefully being how little of our government is really necessary. In the words of Will Rogers, "Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for."

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