The updated document describes how the IRS will handle the filing season, which is supposed to begin on Monday, January 29. The IRS is already under pressure to implement the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Congress passed last month, and it is dealing with a series of budget cuts in recent years that have led to staffing shortages.
“If the IRS is confronted by a lapse in appropriations during the 2018 Tax Filing Season (Jan. 1–April 30, 2018) the IRS will need to continue return processing activities to the extent necessary to protect government property, which includes tax revenue, and maintain the integrity of the federal tax collection process, along with certain other activities authorized under the Anti-Deficiency Act,” said the updated contingency plan.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS and Treasury employees, pointed out that the IRS has lost $900 million in funding and nearly 21,000 full-time employees since 2010. It noted that the largest overhaul to the Tax Code in three decades needs implementation, but many IRS employees would be sent home in a shutdown. The Treasury estimates that 56 percent of the workforce would be furloughed, though the NTEU pointed to the government shutdown in 2013, when 87 percent of the IRS workforce was sent home, albeit not during tax season.
About 1,000 employees will stay in place to manage debt, monitor domestic and international financial markets and policy coordination. Another 2,800 workers are exempt from the shutdown to avoid any disruptions with debt borrowing functions, debt collection, investment, debt accounting and Social Security disbursements.
Any government shutdown could result in tax refund delays, depending how long the shutdown lasts.
The agency lists work related to issuing refunds among tasks that won’t be excepted from the shutdown.
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