Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, said that the IRS will need a year or more to recover from the record-long government shutdown, noting all the work that went undone over those 35 days, according to the Washington Post. Speaking to congressional staffers, she said that the IRS has a backlog of 5 million unanswered correspondences, a swift doubling from the 2.5 million just two weeks ago. Beyond this, the shutdown also forced the IRS to delay training new employees, including 2,000 who were supposed to be able to answer taxpayer questions over the phone, and imperiled the agency’s IT plans, with the Post saying that the agency has lost about 25 IT tech staff per day since the shutdown began, many of whom simply left the IRS for other jobs. Further, plans to issue guidance and regulations on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provisions have also been delayed, and given all the other work to recover, now that the government has (for the time being) reopened, further issuance will likely be delayed. Overall, Olson believes that it will take between 12 to 18 months for the IRS to return to normal operations. This is assuming the government does not shut down again, which the White House has hinted at doing if future negotiations with Democrats go poorly.
However the government shutdown has had absolutely no affect on the IRS computers so please do not take this to mean that if the information on your tax return either does not match third party source documents, the Social Security database or other items that can trigger a tax return to be pulled, please do not assume that your will net get a letter from IRS as many of the tax adjustment letters are pre-programmed into the IRS computers and may never seem human intervention.