Although the most recent government shutdown is over, there may be some long-term impacts for Georgia residents. For example, the IRS says that it is weeks behind in hiring and training staff for the upcoming tax season. It also says that there are millions of unanswered letters from taxpayers that will need to be addressed. The number of letters it received during the shutdown increased because it was the only way for taxpayers to reach the agency.

This was because phone lines and other avenues to seek assistance were closed during the shutdown. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate, it could take as long as a year for the IRS to function normally again. However, this has not been confirmed by the IRS, and taxpayers have questioned the validity of that statement. Of course, logic says that the IRS would need more staff to handle both the backlog of mail and any new correspondence that comes in daily.

Since it is unlikely that the government will approve an IRS funding increase, it will take more time to get through the backlog created by the shutdown. This also doesn’t take into account time allocated for audits, collection activity or cases in tax court. Finally, new tax forms introduced as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may result in a higher volume of questions from taxpayers.

Individuals who fail to pay taxes owed in a timely manner may be faced with a tax lien, wage garnishment or other negative consequences. An attorney may be able to work with the IRS to create a solution to a tax problem that is favorable to the taxpayer. This may result in the government waiving fees or interest owed on an outstanding balance or removing a lien.