With just over a week to go before the October 15 filing deadline for US tax returns that are on extension, the Internal Revenue Service is currently operating under a government shutdown contingency plan. What does that mean for taxpayers, especially those who have yet to file their 2012 returns?
First, the silver lining: Audit operations have been suspended. If you currently have an appointment related to an audit, collections, appeals or a taxpayer advocate case, assume your meeting is cancelled until the shutdown ends.
Now, the bad news: The tax law is still in effect during the government shutdown, including all filing deadlines for individuals, corporations, partnerships and employers.
In other words, if you have not yet filed your 2012 return, it is still due on October 15. If you are due a refund, it will not be issued until the government resumes normal operations. However, if you owe tax, the IRS is standing by to cash your check. You can file electronically or on paper, but keep in mind that paper returns will not be processed until the government shutdown ends, which may delay your refund further.
Don’t expect much help from the IRS either. Taxpayer assistance centers are closed, and no live telephone customer service representatives are available. The website will stay up and automated telephone lines are still open.
The IRS has promised to reassess its contingency plan if the shutdown lasts more than five days.
If you’ve already filed your 2012 return, it’s time to start thinking about this year’s tax bill, which you can expect to be higher due to the American Taxpayer Relief Act. For ideas on how to minimize what you owe for 2013, see our latest whitepaper.
The views expressed herein do not constitute, and should not be considered to be, legal or tax advice. The tax rules are complicated, and their impact on a particular individual may differ depending on the individual’s specific circumstances. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.
Tara Thompson Popernik, CFA and CFP, is the Director of Research in the Wealth Management Group at AllianceBernstein.