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What the Government Shutdown Means for Taxpayers

January 21, 2019

The partial federal government shutdown continues to affect government agencies, including the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Last year, in preparation for the shutdown, the IRS released a Fiscal Year 2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency, allowing the IRS to continue processing certain tax returns with payments and accept disaster-relief related transcript requests. The IRS recently announced that the 2018 filing season will begin on Jan. 28.

The following activities directly affecting taxpayers would normally cease during a government shutdown:

  • Tax refunds (The IRS has announced that it would continue to issue refunds even if the shutdown continues into tax season, but legal challenges have been cited.)
  • Processing transcripts (except those related to disaster relief)
  • Processing amended returns or Forms 1040X
  • Non-automated collections
  • Audits or examinations
  • Legal counsel
  • Call center availability

The following activities would normally continue during a government shutdown:

  • Processing returns with payments
  • Processing disaster relief transcripts
  • Appeals
  • Active criminal investigations
  • E-filing
  • IRS.gov website

Taxpayers should continue to file and pay taxes as normal — the government shutdown does not affect filing date deadlines or payment deadlines for any type of tax collected by the IRS, including payroll taxes. While the IRS has stated that tax refunds will be issued this filing season, taxpayers should understand that refunds received may still be delayed. The IRS strongly encourages electronic payment through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System for faster refunds and fewer errors when paying.