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Individual Tax

IRS issues FAQs on shutdown’s effect on audits, collections and Tax Court operations

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

IRS webpage—IRS Activities Following the Shutdown

IRS has issued information, in frequently asked question (FAQ) format, about the effect of the recent government shutdown on audits, collections and Tax Court operations.

IRS notes that its employees returned to work on Jan. 28, 2019 and resumed activities. Upon their return to the office, they will begin to review mail, voice messages, and their audit and collection files as well as completing administrative tasks to reopen operations.

Audit FAQs.  IRS provides the following information regarding the effect of the shutdown on audits:

1. I sent documents to my auditor but have not heard back. What should I do?

Your auditor will be reviewing mail they have received and will reach out to you to re-establish contact. It may take several business days before your auditor is able to make contact.

2. I planned on sending material to my auditor but did not do so since the government was shut down. What should I do now?

If you have assembled the material requested, you can immediately send the material to your auditor. You may call your auditor to discuss any items on your document request if you need clarification. Your auditor will also be reaching out to you to re-establish contact in the next several business days. During this contact, your auditor will be able to answer questions you have and will address the timeframe on when the requested information is due.

3. I sent my signed audit report and a check to my auditor during the shutdown. How do I know if they were received?

Once your auditor has completed their initial review of their inventory and associated mail received with each audit, the auditor will reach out to you to confirm that they received your agreement and check.

4. How soon will examinations resume?

Once auditors have reviewed mail, voice messages, the status of their assigned inventory and completed administrative tasks to restart operations, they will begin to re-establish contact. This process will take several business days to complete.

5. My audit appointment was canceled prior to the shutdown. When will it be rescheduled?

After completing the assessment of their assigned inventory, your examiner will reach out to you to reschedule your appointment. It will take several business days before your auditor is able to reach out to their assigned taxpayers.

6. My audit appointment was scheduled for one of the days when the government was shutdown. I have not heard from my auditor. What should I do?

Since your auditor was furloughed during the shutdown, they were prohibited from performing their duties. Once your auditor has completed a review of their inventory, they will reach out to you to reschedule your appointment. This process will take several business days to complete.

7. I left a message for my auditor but have not received a call back.

Since your auditor was furloughed during the shutdown, they were prohibited from performing their duties. Upon their return, your auditor will assess the status of their inventory. Your auditor will retrieve their messages and return calls, but it may take several business days before he or she is able to reach out.

8. When can I call my auditor to discuss my audit?

Each auditor will reach out to their assigned taxpayers after they review and assess the status of their assigned inventory. This may take several days. In the meantime, you can reach out to your auditor during normal business hours.

9. I received an audit report from my auditor giving me 10 days to respond. I was unable to respond due to the shutdown. How should I proceed?

If you have additional information, you should send the information to your auditor or call them to discuss options. If you agree with the report, you can sign the report and return it to your auditor. Your auditor will also be reaching out to you to re-establish contact before they take additional actions on your case. At that time, they will discuss any information still needed. It will take a number of days for your auditor to contact all of their assigned taxpayers.

10. I received a 30-day letter asking for my position on audit issues. Will the time limit be extended due to the shutdown?

If you are unable to meet the original due date, you may contact your assigned auditor to discuss options. Your auditor will also be reaching out to you to re-establish contact before taking additional actions on your case.

11. I received a Statutory Notice of Deficiency during the shutdown. What should I do?

On cases where the statute of limitations was nearing expiration, the IRS issued a Statutory Notice of Deficiency to protect the government’s interest. If you received a Notice, you have 90 days to petition the Tax Court if you want to protest the adjustments. If you agree with the adjustments in the report, you can sign and return the report. If you feel you received the Notice in error, you should contact the person listed on the letter or your assigned auditor.

12. I filed a petition with the Tax Court during the government shutdown. What happens next?

We recognize it will take time for the Tax Court to work through its backlog of petitions needed to be served on the IRS. The IRS will only make assessments when the legal assessment period (statute of limitation) is near expiration. For cases in which the legal assessment period (statute of limitation) is not nearing its expiration, the IRS will delay defaulting those Notices and making assessments for the period in which the Tax Court needs to work through its backlog of petition.

13. I received a Form 872, Consent to Extend the Time to Assess Tax, from my auditor. It was mailed prior to the shutdown, but I received it after the shutdown started. What are my options?

The Form 872, Consent to Extend the Time to Assess Tax, was solicited to allow additional time for you and your auditor to address issues still open on your exam. Included with Form 872 you also received Publication 1035. Publication 1035 provides guidance and explains your options. If you have additional questions beyond those in the publication, you should contact your assigned auditor. Your auditor will also be reaching out to you to discuss the process, but this may take several business days to accomplish.

Collection FAQs.  IRS provides the following information regarding the effect of the shutdown on collections:

1. I received a Statutory Notice of Deficiency during the shutdown. What should I do?

On cases where the statute of limitations was nearing expiration, the IRS issued a Statutory Notice of Deficiency to protect the government’s interest. If you received a Notice, you have 90 days to petition the Tax Court if you want to protest the adjustments. If you agree with the adjustments in the report, you can sign and return the report. If you feel you received the Notice in error, you should contact the person listed on the letter or your assigned auditor.

2. Will failure to pay and failure to file penalties be abated during the shutdown period?

The lapse in federal appropriations during the government shutdown did not affect the federal tax law. Individuals and businesses were required to keep filing their tax returns and making payments with the IRS. Failure to pay and failure to file penalties are charged on tax from the due date of the return until the date of payment. Taxpayers who make their deposits and payments in-person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center and were unable to do so due to the shutdown can file a request that the penalty be abated for reasonable cause.

3. How does the shutdown period affect my repayment plan with my Revenue Officer (RO)? I was working with the RO towards an installment agreement.

Once your revenue officer has reviewed mail, voice messages, the status of their assigned inventory and completed administrative tasks to restart operations, they will begin to reestablish contact to work with you towards resolution of your tax account issue. This process will take several business days to complete.

4. I missed an appointment with my Revenue Officer, am I going to be penalized?

Because your Revenue Officer was furloughed during the shutdown, they were prohibited from performing their duties. Once your Revenue Officer has completed a review of their inventory, they will reach out to you to reschedule your appointment. This process will take several business days to complete.

5. I needed to make a payment and provide information to my assigned Revenue Officer during the shutdown period, I was unable to do so, will this affect me?

No. Since your Revenue Officer was furloughed during the shutdown, they were prohibited from performing their duties. Your assigned Revenue Officer will work with you to secure the necessary information to move your case forward to resolution. In the meantime, you can reach out to your Revenue Officer during normal business hours.

6. If a Notice of Levy has been issued/received, who should I contact?

Please use the telephone number provided on the notice.

7. I filed a request for a notice of discharge and I have an imminent closing. Is there contact information available?

For additional information regarding a request for discharge, you can refer to Publication 4235 to find your local Collection Advisory Office for lien issues.

8. Where should questions regarding lien release/withdrawal issues be directed?

For additional information regarding a lien release or withdrawal issue, you can refer to Publication 4235 to find your local Collection Advisory Office.

9. My case is assigned to a Private Collection Agency (PCA) contracted by the IRS. How soon can I expect to be contacted?

The PCAs are currently working through correspondence and incoming voice messages received during the shutdown. We anticipate that the PCAs will begin to reestablish contact with taxpayers no later than Friday, February 1st, 2019. If you have a prior-established payment arrangement with a PCA, you should continue to make your regular payments as previously agreed.

10. My passport application was denied because of delinquent tax debt. What should I do?

Contact the IRS at 1-855-519-4965 (International callers 1-267-941-1004) to make arrangements to resolve your tax debt, or to provide information and receive assistance if you have already resolved the debt. Visit irs.gov/passport for more information about passport denial due to Federal tax debt.

11. I submitted a request for a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing but have not heard from anyone. What should I do?

We will be processing CDP requests received. Since work has resumed, you can expect to be contacted soon. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact the office where you submitted your hearing request.

Tax Court FAQs.  For the Tax Court FAQs, see IRS issues update on shutdown’s impact on Tax Court cases.

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