The IRS has provided a detailed explanation regarding what services are available during the lapse in appropriations — and it’s not much.
- no live telephone assistance
- no walk-in availability at local IRS offices
- no refunds to be issued
- no correspondence will be opened/reviewed
- no tax return processing
- no third party transcript requests
- no installment agreement requests will be reviewed
- no hardship status requests will be reviewed
- no offers in compromise will be reviewed
- no audit, exam, or appeal conferences
- no levy releases (presumably)
The IRS clearly stated that they will not be issuing any new levies during the lapse in appropriations. This applies to automated levies that are generated by ACS (Automated Collection System) as well as those issued by live field agents. However, the caveat there is that some levy notices appear to have gone out after the government shutdown because they were post-dated. If a particular levy notice was actually issued prior to the IRS closing its doors, then it will be impossible to get it released for the time being. Also, “intent to levy” notices (those that warn taxpayers of future levy risks) will continue to be mailed out by the automated system.
But we know that at least some IRS personnel continue to work through the shutdown. What are they doing?
- cashing your checks
- conducting criminal investigations
- issuing emergency levies & seizures
Emergency collection actions usually involve situations where collection of the tax is in jeopardy: for instance, where the CSED (Collection Statute Expiration Date) is approaching and the IRS is on the verge of forever losing an opportunity to collect a substantial tax debt. Even during normal operations, the IRS is quite selective in what it deems a “jeopardy” situation. So during the IRS closure, this scenario would be “extremely limited” according to the IRS.