It has become hard to keep straight what is and isn’t open during the government shutdown. With 91% of Internal Revenue Service employees furloughed, Tax Defense Network recognizes there is a great deal that is not getting done at the IRS. However, even though most of the IRS workforce is on unpaid leave, taxpayers need to know that they are still required to file their taxes on time. The IRS has updated their website reminding taxpayers that all tax deadlines are still in place.

Taxpayers who requested the six-month filing extension are still required to file their tax returns by October 15th. Electronic returns will be processed as normal. In fact, the IRS encourages taxpayers to file electronically because electronic returns are processed automatically. While paper returns will be accepted, they will not be processed until after the shutdown ends because most of the employees who process paper returns are furloughed.

This does not give those who choose to file paper returns extra time to file. The US Postal Service postmarks all mail. The IRS takes note of postmarks and will charge penalties and interest on any returns mailed in after the October 15th deadline.

The IRS also explains that deadlines covering individuals, corporations, partnerships and employers also remain in place. This includes regular payroll tax deadlines. Again, penalties and interest will be charged on all late filings.

Tax Defense Network would like to stress that taxpayers repaying debt to the IRS must continue making deposits. The shutdown is not a reason to stop making payments toward tax debt. Taxpayers who stop making payment toward their debt will be considered in default. This could leave them vulnerable to renewed collections actions once the shutdown ends.

With the majority of the IRS furloughed, there are limited options for those seeking help. The National Taxpayer Advocate service is furloughed, as are the IRS employees designated to answer taxpayer questions.

There are still a few places for taxpayers to turn for assistance. The IRS website remains open, though interactive features, such as the Interactive Tax Assistant, are not available. Only the automated application telephone line (800-829-1040) remains available. Taxpayers will not be able to speak with IRS customer service over the phone. The IRS advises taxpayers seeking assistance to contact tax software companies, tax practitioners, or Free File, the free online federal tax preparation service that is partnered with the IRS.