IRS Robots Working During Shutdown

By Global Tax Weekly

There’s unlikely to be any shortage of work for tax advisers in the United States. The way events have conspired, 2019 could go down in history as one of the most challenging tax seasons ever, if not the most challenging. Certainly, the ingredients for this are in place: substantially revised US tax rules, which taxpayers will be filing under for the first time this year; and an Internal Revenue Service only just getting back on its feet after the longest government shutdown in history. An IRS, I might add, that struggles to cope with its bloated remit with 76,000 staff, let alone a skeleton crew. A recipe for disaster, you might say. An administrative perfect storm.

Recently, the IRS has sounded like it resembles one of those tax robots I keep warning you all about. As noted by the American Institute of CPAs in its recent letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig on the matter, the IRS continues to mail automated IRS collection notices, automated warnings of asset seizures and Notices of Intent to Levy, as well as automatically transferring cases to collections. Note the extensive use of the word “automatic” here. However, attempts by taxpayers to respond to such automated notices are likely to have fallen on deaf ears, as there were no humans at the IRS to talk to. And you won’t get any sense out of a robot.

Could things get any more daunting for US taxpayers? There’s always the final version of the transition tax regulations (released last month) to give you a fright if you’re not sufficiently spooked by all this. Or how about the battery of new tax forms and instructions relating to tax changes brought about by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which were recently published by the IRS, including Forms 965, 965A (Schedules A-H), 8990, 8992, 8993, and 8996? You could write a movie about it: “Nightmare on Constitution Avenue.”

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