October 15 Tax Filing Deadline Remains Despite Government Shutdown

Today marks two weeks since the government shutdown began.  If you are one of the approximately 12 million individuals who requested a six-month extension on the filing of their federal income tax returns back in April, you may be hoping that the government shutdown means you do not have to file your taxes today.  However, that is simply on the case.

Despite the government shutdown, federal tax laws are still in place, which means tax returns are still due today.  There are two primary group who have more time to file their income tax returns and pay any tax due:

  • Those in the military serving in an active combat zone, who typically have until 180 days after they leave the combat zone
  • Those in Colorado affected by the flooding, who have until December 2, 2013

Taxpayers can still use the IRS’ e-file system or the postal system, ensuring they mail their return today such that it is postmarked no later than October 15.  However, the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to use e-file, as such returns typically have fewer errors.

Although the IRS will process tax returns as they receive them, the IRS will not pay any refunds owed to taxpayers until Congress and the President resolve the government shutdown.  Once normal IRS operations resume, those who elect to receive any refund due by direct deposit will receive their refund sooner.

Same-Sex Marriage and Other Tax Benefits

The IRS is asking that taxpayers take appropriate time to ensure they complete their tax returns accurately, as those who rush to file their returns at the last minute are more likely to make errors or omit deductions are credit legally due to them.

As of September 16, 2013, those benefits include same-sex couples married legally in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage.  Even if those couples now live in a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage, the IRS treats that couple as married.

IRS Payment Programs

If you are unable to pay your tax liability owed, you should still file your tax return today to avoid a late filing penalty.  You can also apply for a payment plan with the IRS, which taxpayers can apply for online in most cases.  Such payment plans typically allow taxpayers to pay their tax liability owed in monthly payments over up to 72 months, and getting started on a payment plan will help the taxpayer minimize any interest or late payment penalties owed to the IRS.

In addition, taxpayers who are struggling to pay their tax liability may qualify for an offer in compromise, in which the IRS is willing to accept a lower payment but still consider the taxpayer’s tax liability as paid in full.  However, the IRS considers an offer in compromise only for those taxpayers who can legitimately prove payment of their full tax liability would create an undue hardship.

Assistance Filing Your Tax Return

During the government shutdown, although the IRS’ automated telephone response system is active, IRS representatives are not available to answer questions.  Therefore, if you need assistance completing your tax return, you can speak with a tax attorney by calling the phone number located at the top of this web site.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.