The partial government shutdown ended Friday evening, just in time for the start of the tax filing season for individuals. The full IRS workforce thus returns today. The Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019, H.J. Res. 28, which officially reopened the federal government, funds the IRS and other federal agencies until Feb. 15.
Remember, the partial shutdown placed 88% of IRS employees on furlough after the start of the shutdown on December 22nd. The IRS issued a new plan in January, calling for 57% of IRS employees to work during tax season. With the federal government now funded for the next three weeks, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum on Friday saying that all federal employees who had been furloughed “may now return to work” and that affected federal agencies should “reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner” (OMB Memorandum M-19-09 (1/25/19)).
The IRS has not yet addressed how it will handle issues that arose during the shutdown, such as concerns from CPAs nationwide who reported that IRS services and processes were not functioning at normal levels.
During the shutdown, the IRS suspended all audits, examinations, and appeal activity unless the statute of limitation was about to expire. It continued to send 90-day letters, and taxpayers whose examinations were suspended during this period may be assessed additional penalties and interest as a result of the delay in their case. The IRS did also promise to move forward with the start of the filing season. In addition, the Tax Court was also closed during the shutdown and had canceled upcoming trial sessions around the country through February 11th. Today, it announced its reopening (with no word on what will happen with the previously canceled sessions).
Onward we go! Our advice remains the same: Let’s conduct tax preparation and filing, as usual, this year despite the threat of another shutdown. We’ll update you again in February as the deadline for funding the government approaches once again.