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IRS audits to be on hold if government shuts down

It doesn't seem to matter which side of the aisle one sits on in Congress, or at what spot on the political spectrum a lawmaker stands; no one is coming out and saying they support the idea of a government shutdown. And yet, the prospects of avoiding such an event horizon don't seem very likely. The deadline is approaching.

What happens if the government does shut down? Well, according to an item in The Daily Beast, we know that lawmakers won't suffer. Even if other federal workers go on furlough or are required to report to work without knowing when their next paycheck will be issued, members of Congress, who make $174,000 a year, are protected from such cuts by the 27th Amendment to the Constitution.

From a tax standpoint, there might be one somewhat positive element of a shutdown. Because only a handful of the Internal Revenue Service's 95,000 workers will be allowed to report for work, such things as IRS audits, phone assistance and collection of taxes by non-electronic means will be suspended. Anything that's automated, however, will continue to function, according to the IRS shutdown plan released last week.

If a shutdown does occur, and if it lasts more than five days, the IRS doesn't know what it will do then. Its contingency plan only covers that span of time. If it runs longer than that, officials will have to, as our talking GPS systems might say, recalculate the route.

Considering how much of a struggle it can be to deal with an IRS audit under normal circumstances, those facing such an intrusion may welcome a shutdown. It could allow them more time to consult with an attorney about the best way to respond to the issue.

Source: Forbes.com, "Shutdown Will Stop IRS Audits, But Not Obamacare Exchanges," Jeremy Scott, Sept. 30, 2013

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