When 35 Equals 365

Yet another entry in the “Math Is Hard” file, again from our friends at the Internal Revenue Service. From the Washington Post comes the news that it will take the IRS between 12 and 18 months to catch-up on the backlog from the 35-day shutdown. The Post was quoting information from two House staffers who heard this from the National Taxpayer Advocate.

On January 16th, the IRS had a backlog of 2.5 million unanswered pieces of mail. That’s up to 5 million now. Two of those unanswered pieces of mail are from me on behalf of clients (both disputing CP2000 notices). They had to be mailed to the IRS because the IRS turned off their fax machines during the shutdown. I told my clients that they’ll get a response…eventually. My hope is that the IRS has turned off the automatic issuance of Notices of Deficiency. Once you have one of those, the only way to stop the process is to file a Tax Court petition. (I think that has happened, as neither client has received a follow-up notice or a Notice of Deficiency.)

So let’s see what we have. Millions of pieces of unanswered mail. New tax forms that most IRS employees haven’t been trained on. Computers that are, in some cases, older than I am. Add in new tax law and you have the recipe for…well, let’s not call it a masterpiece. Perhaps goulash or a stew, or one of those horrific casseroles that I remember from the dorms at Cal. Suffice to say this is going to be a trying Tax Season.

Oh, I shouldn’t forget: If Congress and President Trump don’t come to an agreement in about two weeks (and President Trump put the odds at less than 50-50) the whole shutdown may repeat.

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