Due to the lapse in appropriations, most IRS operations are closed during the shutdown.
During this period, the underlying tax laws remain in effect, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making payments and deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do by law.
The 2019 filing season will begin on Jan. 28, 2019, for individual taxpayers. The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers and June 15 for most qualifying US citizens abroad. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.
The IRS began accepting business tax returns (non-1040 series) on Jan. 8.
Taxpayers should keep in mind during this challenging period that IRS will accept paper and electronic tax returns, but taxpayers are urged to file electronically to speed processing and refunds.
Refunds will be paid, but the IRS cautions that returns will continue to be subject to refund fraud, identity theft and other internal reviews as in prior years. Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.
As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.
IRS.gov and many automated applications remain available, including Where’s My Refund, the IRS2go phone app and online payment agreements.
No live telephone customer service assistance is currently available, although the IRS will be adding staff to answer some of the telephone lines in the coming days. Due to the heavier call volume, taxpayers should be prepared for longer wait times. Most automated toll-free telephone applications will remain operational.
IRS walk-in taxpayer assistance centers (TACs) are closed. While the government is closed, people with appointments related to examinations (audits), collection, Appeals or Taxpayer Advocate cases should assume their meetings are cancelled. IRS personnel will reschedule those meetings at a later date, when the IRS reopens.
While able to receive mail, the IRS will be responding to paper correspondence to only a very limited degree during this lapse period. Taxpayers who mail in correspondence to the IRS during this period should expect a lengthy delay for a response after the IRS reopens due to a growing correspondence backlog.
During this period, the IRS will not be conducting audits, but automated initial contact letters will continue to be mailed. No collection activity will generally occur except for automated collection activity. For example, automated IRS collection notices will continue to be mailed. Criminal Investigation work, however, continues during this period.
The IRS will not be certifying for the State Department any individuals for passport eligibility.