The longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history is expected to end on January 25. President Donald Trump and congressional leaders reached an agreement to reopen the government with a three-week stopgap spending bill. The measure would fund certain federal agencies, including the IRS and Treasury, through February 15.
“We have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump announced from the White House on January 25. The partial government shutdown began on December 22, 2018.
A short term Continuing Resolution (CR) is expected to be approved in both the Senate and House on the evening of January 25, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Today, the president will sign the bill to reopen the government,” Schumer told reporters on January 25. Additionally, another CR is expected to be approved the same day that would call for border security funding negotiations to be reconciled by a bipartisan congressional conference committee.
“I’m very optimistic that the conference committee can come to a good conclusion and we can avoid another shutdown,” Schumer told reporters. However, Trump implied on January 25 that another government shutdown could occur in three weeks if border security negotiations do not occur in “good faith.”
AICPA Outline Concerns for 2019 Tax Filing Season
Meanwhile, the IRS is gearing up for opening day of the 2019 tax filing season on January 28. Lawmakers continue to express concern over the partial IRS and Treasury shutdown’s impact on taxpayers and the upcoming filing season.
Additionally, tax practitioners and professionals have voiced concern regarding the unavailability of many taxpayer service functions at the IRS. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has outlined to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig several challenges currently faced by taxpayers and return preparers, according to a January 25 AICPA news release.
“According to our members, the many IRS services and processes that are not functioning, or are not functioning at their normal levels, are creating more problematic issues,” Annette Nellen, chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee wrote to Mnuchin and Rettig in a January 24 letter. As noted in the letter, the following areas are presenting challenges for taxpayers:
- automated notices;
- IRS audits and appeals;
- online systems and accounts;
- limited assistance available; and
- the slowdown in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) implementation of Forms and Guidance.
Additionally, Nellen listed the following recommendations for the IRS on behalf of the AICPA:
- provide automatic extension of notices and collections until 90 days from the shutdown ending date, stop assessing penalties and interest and cease sending automated notices;
- maintain all online systems and accounts operating effectively;
- provide full assistance to taxpayers and tax practitioners; and
- retain more IRS Chief Counsel attorneys for TCJA guidance.
By Jessica Jeane, Senior News Editor