Neal Asks Treasury, IRS How Government Shutdown Will Impact 2019 Tax Filing Season
The partial government shutdown is expected on Capitol Hill to impact the 2019 tax filing season. The House’s top tax writer has requested information on such effects from Treasury and the IRS. The written inquiry comes on the heels of President Donald Trump stating on January 4 that the shutdown could last "months or years."
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., sent two January 4 letters on the matter, one to both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. In the letters, Neal asked several questions pertaining to the IRS’s handling of the upcoming 2019 tax filing season and tax reform implementation amidst the ongoing government shutdown.
Congressional Republican and Democratic leaders met with Trump on January 4 at the White House to continue discussions on a needed government appropriations agreement to end the partial shutdown. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters at the White House that some "progress" was made during the meeting. However, Trump said that the shutdown could last "months or years," in a January press briefing after meeting with congressional leaders.
Currently, the IRS has furloughed approximately 70,000 IRS employees, accounting for 87.5 percent of its workforce, according to Neal. Additionally, the IRS has ceased vital taxpayer services, which include but are not limited to answering taxpayer questions and accepting non-disaster relief transcript requests. Moreover, the IRS has previously stated that it will not issue refunds in the midst of a government shutdown, (TAXDAY, 2019/01/04, C.1).
"These actions are causing undue hardship to American taxpayers and IRS civil servants," Neal wrote. Additionally, Neal noted his concern with the shutdown encroaching on the first tax filing season after the implementation of tax reform. At press time on January 4, the IRS had not yet announced the start date of the 2019 tax filing season.
In the January 4 letters to Mnuchin and Rettig, Neal asked when the 2019 tax filing season will begin and whether refunds will be issued at any point during the shutdown. Additionally, Neal asked for a list of all IRS functions that have stopped or been reduced because of the lapse in appropriations. Neal asked for a response from Mnuchin and Rettig by January 11.
By Jessica Jeane, Senior News Editor, CCH