Questions and Answers on the Impact of the Government Shutdown on IRS and Tax Administration 

    Published October 01, 2013

    On Oct. 16, Congress reached an agreement to end the government shutdown.  IRS employees are expected to report back to work on Thursday, Oct. 17.  However, it may take a some time for all IRS functions to return back to normal, for example the 2014 PTIN registration.  Additional details of the government shutdown debt ceiling deal are available on this Journal of Accountancy article.

    On Oct. 8, we learned the IRS added two new questions and answers regarding levies and enforcement action during a government shutdown. 

    On Oct. 1, the federal government came to a halt as Congress failed to pass a government funding bill.  As a result more than 85,000 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees are now furloughed, ceasing the majority of activities at the IRS.  Regardless, filing deadlines remain the same and payments are still due in a timely manner. 

    The AICPA Tax Section created this page with Questions and Answers to help practitioners working to complete tax returns by the Oct. 15 deadline. We are closely monitoring the government shutdown, the impact on IRS operations, and the negative impact on our members and taxpayers. We will continue to advocate on behalf of our members for appropriate relief, whenever possible, and post any updated information to this page.

    NOTE: This information is current as of Thursday, October 17, 2013.

    1. What is the IRS’s official contingency plan for a government shutdown? (updated 10/10/13)
    2. Will individual taxpayers still need to file by October 15th or does the IRS have the ability to extend due dates for extraordinary circumstances?
    3. Will the IRS provide an expedited or automatic abatement of penalties for late-filed tax returns?
    4. Will the EFTPS continue to operate as normal during a government shutdown?
    5. Will the practitioner hotline remain open during a government shutdown?
    6. Will e-Services continue to operate during a government shutdown?
    7. Will examinations continue during a government shutdown?
    8. Will the timeline for submitting appeals be extended?
    9. How will the shutdown impact the filing and processing of Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance?
    10. Are identity theft services available during a government shutdown?
    11. How will the IRS handle notices during the shutdown?
    12. Will a CAF center be open to process POAs which are faxed?
    13. Will the IRS have an employee available to sign for expedited mail since the post office will be open during the government shutdown?
    14. Will taxpayer assistance centers (TACs) be open during a government shutdown?
    15. How will the shutdown affect the timing of taxpayer refunds?
    16. How will the shutdown affect the MeF system?
    17. How is the IRS handling levies or liens during a government shutdown? (added 10/08/13)
    18. What enforcement action is the IRS taking during a government shutdown? (added 10/08/13)
    19. When will I be able to renew my Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) for 2014? (added 10/17/13) 

    This guidance is subject to change as we receive updated information.  We will post information as soon as it becomes available.  Please check IRS.gov for additional information on the shutdown.


    1. What is the IRS’s official contingency plan for a government shutdown?

    On September 27th, the IRS released its contingency plan in the event the federal government shuts down on October 1st. The plan is effective for up to five business days.  Should the hiatus extend beyond five business days, the IRS will initiate a reassessment.

    On Oct 8, six business days after the government shutdown, the IRS released information regarding levies and enforcement action.  (updated 10/10/13).

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    2. Will individual taxpayers still need to file by October 15th or does the IRS have the ability to extend due dates for extraordinary circumstances?

    The AICPA has urged the IRS to consider the substantial burden imposed on taxpayers (and practitioners) by the inability to communicate with and obtain information from the IRS. However, taxpayers (and practitioners) should assume the extended due date for individual returns is October 15th until the IRS otherwise provides guidance.

    The AICPA Tax Executive Committee is currently considering whether it is appropriate to advocate for a legislative solution to provide for an additional extension of time to file tax returns.

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    3. Will the IRS provide an expedited or automatic abatement of penalties for late-filed tax returns?

    We recognize a significant number of taxpayers will be affected by the government shutdown this close to the October 15th deadline; however, our sources at the IRS indicate that all returns and payments are due in a timely manner.  The IRS currently has no plans to grant expedited or automatic abatements of penalties for late-filed returns due to a government shutdown.

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    4. Will the EFTPS continue to operate as normal during a government shutdown?

    Yes, the IRS has indicated that the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) will continue to operate as normal during a government shutdown. However, as a precaution, we recommend that you print the confirmation page for any payments you make through the EFTPS.

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    5. Will the practitioner hotline remain open during a government shutdown?

    No, according to the IRS’s contingency plan, taxpayer services such as responding to taxpayer questions will cease during any shutdown. Once government operations resume, we have urged the IRS to consider extended hours and additional staff/resources to assist tax practitioners through October 15th.

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    6. Will e-Services continue to operate during a government shutdown?

    Yes, according to the IRS’s contingency plan, e-Services should continue to function as normal. Practitioners will be able to obtain transcripts through IRS’s e-Services and even apply for e-Services on-line. However, new applicants will likely be delayed in gaining access to the system, since IRS employees will be unavailable to support the registration process during the shutdown.

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    7. Will examinations continue during a government shutdown?

    No.  According to the IRS’s contingency plan, all audit functions, examination of returns, and processing of non-electronic tax returns that do not include remittances, will cease during a government shutdown. Revenue agents will likely contact practitioners to reschedule any appointments that are cancelled as a result,

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    8. Will the timeline for submitting appeals be extended?

    The AICPA has asked the IRS to address this issue. The IRS has indicated that appeals will not be extended. Therefore, we strongly recommend, as a protective action, that you submit any appeal in a timely manner via mail with a certified mail return receipt until the IRS otherwise provides guidance.

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    9. How will the shutdown impact the filing and processing of Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance?

    The Taxpayer Advocate office will not process Form 911 during the shutdown.

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    10. Are identity theft services available during a government shutdown?

    Taxpayer services such as identity theft services will cease during a shutdown.  However, taxpayers can verify their identity through the electronic affidavit process.

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    11. How will the IRS handle notices during a government shutdown?

    The IRS will continue to generate notices during a government shutdown; however, no employees will be available to make corrections to the notices, answer questions, or take other actions.  The IRS has made no indication that they will extend any deadlines associated with notices.  We understand that Practitioners frequently need to speak with IRS personnel to understand issues, obtain information on the IRS’s records and properly respond to IRS inquiries.  The AICPA has urged the IRS to consider the substantial burden imposed on taxpayers (and practitioners) by the inability to communicate with and obtain information from the IRS.

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    12. Will a CAF unit be open to process POAs which are faxed?

    No, according to the IRS’s contingency plan, taxpayer services such as the Centralized Authorized File (CAF) unit will cease during any shutdown. Once government operations resume, we have urged the IRS to consider extended hours and additional staff/resources to assist tax practitioners through October 15th.

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    13. Will the IRS have an employee available to accept private delivery services during a government shutdown?

    The post office will be open during a government shut.  However, we are unsure if any IRS employees will be available to sign and accept deliveries.

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    14. Will taxpayer assistance centers (TACs) be open during a government shutdown?

    No, according to the IRS’s contingency plan, all TACs will be closed. The AICPA has asked the IRS to consider extended hours and additional staff through October 15th to address practitioners’ questions and concerns once operations resume.

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    15. How will the shutdown affect the timing of taxpayer refunds?

    The IRS will not issue any refunds during a government shutdown. In addition, the “Where’s my refund” service will cease during the shutdown.

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    16. How will the shutdown affect the MeF system?

    According to the IRS’s contingency plan, some information technology employees may be available, but the plan does not provide any specifics. For example, it is not clear whether the MeF hotline will be open for software developers during the government shutdown. The AICPA has asked the IRS to address this issue and provide more details.

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    17. How is the IRS handling levies or liens during a government shutdown?

    According to the IRS website, levies or liens will be halted, however, taxpayers may still receive a levy or lien letter, with an October mailing date, since those notices are printed in advance, before the IRS shutdown operations were fully complete.  Furthermore, other letters related to liens and levies, such as a taxpayer could be subject to a levy or lien in the future,  will continue to be automatically generated by IRS systems. (added 10/08/13)

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    18. What enforcement action is the IRS taking during a government shutdown?

    For non-criminal cases, during the shutdown, the only enforcement IRS is taking involves isolated instances where it needs to take immediate action to protect the government’s interest.  For criminal issues, most IRS Criminal Investigation employees continue to work similar to other federal law-enforcement agencies. (added 10/08/13)

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    19. When will I be able to renew my Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) for 2014?

    On Oct. 17th, the IRS announced that due to the government shutdown, the 2014 PTIN renewal season will be delayed.  Current PTIN holders will eventually be notified, through email or letter, as to when the 2014 renewal season will open.  The online PTIN system is still available to secure a PTIN for 2013 or to update information for current users.  (added 10/17/13)

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