The sequester is automatic federal budget cuts that took effect on March 1, 2013. The intent was to reduce the federal deficit. The cuts took effect because Congress couldn’t come to an agreement on more sensible budget cuts. March 1st came and went and we didn’t really see or feel the effects of the budget cuts.
Then it hit the air traffic controllers. They were forced to take furloughs, days off without pay. Flights were delayed because of the staff shortages in the control towers. The security lines were longer because of staff shortages. And the media featured all of this very prominently. Congress responded to all of this negative publicity by restoring the budget cuts to the FAA almost immediately.
Now the sequester is coming to IRS, which is dealing with its own internal issues as most are well aware. IRS will be closing its offices for five days before the end of this year – May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22, and August 30, 2013. Everything will be shut down on those days – its offices, all toll-free hotlines, the Taxpayer Advocate Service and all taxpayer assistance centers. There will be no processing of tax returns, compliance-related activities or acceptance or acknowledgement of electronically-filed returns. But, you get NO extension of tax-related deadlines. Deposits made through EFTPS will be processed as usual.
Taxpayers will have extra time to comply with IRS requests if the due date is on a furlough day. Web- based tools and some automated services will be available on furlough days. IRS says they may need to schedule another day or two of furloughs in order to save enough in expenses to meet the amount the sequester cut from its budget.
Will there be a public outcry over these furloughs as there was over the FAA furloughs? I am guessing not. So if you have IRS business to conduct, make a note of these dates on your calendar. Once again, our government’s fiscal problems are not shared equally by all taxpayers.
-By Beverly DeVeny and Jared Trexler