The recent partial government shutdown has made a major contribution to the issues that the Internal Revenue Service is experiencing.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times says that the National Taxpayer Advocate, a government watchdog group, believes that it will take 12 to 18 months for the IRS to return to normal operations.

Training for 2,000 recently hired IRS employees was delayed due to the shutdown, and these employees must be trained before they can answer taxpayer questions.  Recent changes to the tax laws have made preparing and filing income tax returns much more complicated, and the IRS is struggling to issue regulations to clarify the laws and provide taxpayer assistance.

During the shutdown, the IRS received more than 700,000 pieces of mail each day, up from 200,000 pieces of mail each day received recently.  The current backlog is 5,000,000 pieces of mail.  This means that communication with the IRS will be more difficult and their correspondence response times, already long, will stretch even longer.  The IRS’ computers will continue to automatically issue notices even though a response was mailed as there is a shortage of employees to process the correspondence. Our firm, like all taxpayers, will need to send more responses to these additional notices.

Since the partial government funding expires on February 15th, it is possible that the IRS’ operations will be further impacted.