Tax Court closed during government shutdown; IRS announces no refunds

BY SALLY P. SCHREIBER, J.D.

With the federal government shutting down at midnight on Sept. 30, the Tax Court announced that it is closing during the shutdown. Unlike the other federal courts, which will remain open for at least 10 days, the Tax Court stopped accepting petitions, motions, and other papers, and electronic filings at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 1. The court also said it will serve no documents itself, starting Oct. 1. According to the notice, any updates or resumption in operations will be announced on the court’s website.

During the time that the court is closed, for due dates that are established by the Tax Court, deadlines will be extended for the number of days court operations have been suspended, up to a maximum of five days from the date the court resumes operating. Also, extended deadlines that fall on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays will be extended to the next business day.

The Tax Court explained that it cannot extend due dates set by statute, such as the Sec. 6213(a) deadline to file a tax court petition to redetermine a deficiency within 90 days of receiving the deficiency notice and the 30-day deadline for filing a petition challenging a lien or levy under Sec. 6330(d)(1). During the shutdown, taxpayers will still be required to meet the regular deadlines for these actions.

Because the court will not take electronic filings and no hand deliveries will be accepted at the courthouse during the shutdown, taxpayers will have to send documents by U.S. mail (which is still operating during the shutdown) or by approved private express delivery services. Taxpayers can rely on the Sec. 7502(a) rule that a timely mailed petition is treated as timely filed, as of the date of the U.S. postal service postmark on the envelope in which the petition was mailed. Under Sec. 7502(f), petitions sent using designated private delivery services get the benefit of this rule.

Tax refunds

In other government shutdown news, the IRS announced on its website on Tuesday that, “Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume.” This marked a change from its shutdown contingency plan, under which 859 employees in its Information Technology Services Enterprise Operations were excepted from the general shutdown furlough to ensure “refunds continue to process” and which said that "Without this support, . . . refunds to America's taxpayers would not occur.”

Sally P. Schreiber ( sschreiber@aicpa.org ) is a JofA senior editor.   

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