Tax season will kick off toward the end of January regardless of the government shutdown, the IRS says.
“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. According to the release:
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.
The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, to work. Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.
“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig.
But major questions remain, according to CNBC. The network reports:
“The processing of returns and customer service — most of those employees have been furloughed,” said Nicole Kaeding, director of federal projects at the Tax Foundation.
“How will they bring those employees back, and will they be compensated while they’re working?” she asked. “Those are some large questions that haven’t been answered, even though they said refunds would be processed.”
That makes this a stressful time for accountants — and their clients. “The October 2013 shutdown caused a lot of angst for practitioners,” said Edward Karl, vice president of taxation at the American Institute of CPAs.