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Has The IRS Shut Down Left You Shut Out?

IRS employees are among the hundreds of thousands furloughed by the stalemate between the Congressional parties. Regardless of blame, we’re all impacted by the shut down, especially with our interaction with the IRS. With the October 15th final 1040 deadline approaching, how are we as taxpayers (along with our 6 million slowpoke friends) to react? Why calmly, of course.

Although only 9% (about 8,750 of almost 95,000) of Internal Revenue Service employees are still working, the tax law hasn’t stopped or changed. According to the IRS website, “all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations.” We wouldn’t dare do otherwise!

They’ll still take our money, right? Of course—via check, EFT or credit card, since it’s all outsourced to commercial banks.

They won’t charge us late filing or payment penalties, right? Wrong! The tax calendar hasn’t shut down.

Will anything change with how I file? No, but eFiling is recommended, as the postal service will keep stuffing the snail mail returns into the IRS’ mail slot until the doors open again. Be sure your mailed return is postmarked by October 15th, as someday the agents will be back and checking those things.

This won’t delay my refund, right? Of course it will! The government can’t make any non-essential payments, and you know where we are on that list.

What if I need help? Hopefully you have access to the IRS website, www.IRS.gov, as the IRS assistance and telephone customer service centers are closed. Even the Practitioner Priority Service Hotline and the Taxpayer Advocate Service, our go-to problem solvers, have closed their offices. The eServices website is available, but after it was pared down last month it isn’t much help.

What happens if I call 1 (800) 429-1040 for help? The IRS’ automated assistance line is still open for common questions, and it’s pretty good at answering them.

Is there anywhere else that I can get help? Sure, we’re open, as are most other tax practitioners. Even AARP and other public service agencies are available.

Is there any good news here? Only if you’re expecting an audit or dealing with a tax collection matter; those actions are suspended. Unfortunately, the IRS Automated Collection System didn’t close, so collection letters are still being mailed and those deadlines are still in effect.  You’ll need to respond by letter and we recommend requesting a return receipt for proof of sent date. Let’s hope the agents enjoy their unexpected vacation and are in good spirits when they return to work.

Meanwhile, if you’re frustrated with the complex tax system, this is a great time to participate in our birthday card contest. Design a card to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Form 1040—and tell us how you really feel.

The winning card will be posted on our website and available for download. We then encourage you to add your own comments before mailing to Congress.

Find more information on our website, www.CPAsite.com; just click the link for contest guidelines. If you need assistance, you can reach us at Office@CPAsite.com or 904-396-5400.

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