The IRS issued an “Operations Resumption Statement” last week on its website after opening its doors back up on October 17th. The IRS wants taxpayers and tax professionals to know that that they are aware of the backlog that has resulted from the 16-day shutdown:
At this point, we know we received a large amount of correspondence during the closure. We know there will be a substantial increase in demand for our phone services and many other operations
In other words, “stop reminding us about the delays and long hold times; we know we have problems right now.”
The IRS also acknowledged that it will take time for the call centers and walk-in assistance centers to ramp up to normal levels of operation. Since they are still assessing the damage caused by the government shutdown, there is no way to estimate how long the ramping up process will take. I would guess that things will be slow for several weeks, perhaps even a couple months. This is based on my experience as a tax attorney over the years. Even one day off at the call centers often has residual effects on hold times and mail processing times. A 16-day shutdown is unprecedented and we have no way of knowing when the IRS will be back to “normal” at this point.
In light of the enormous backlog that the IRS has committed to focus on over the next several weeks, the IRS has asked that taxpayers and tax professionals delay or limit their contacts with the IRS except in urgent situations. Of course, after 16 days many of the issues that could have been considered non-urgent have now been upgraded to higher levels of urgency. And I think the IRS realizes that too. They just ask for our patience right now. Ask anyone who deals with the IRS on a regular basis — if there is anything we know, it’s patience.