When IRS employees came back to work on January 28, 2019, they faced a backlog of work left undone during the 35 day Trump shutdown. Yes, there were five million pieces of mail waiting for them and more pouring in every day. You probably think those 80,000 people walked into the IRS building, sat down in front of their computers, cracked their knuckles and got right to work processing your returns on Monday.
Not even close.
When the Trump shutdown happened back in December, the furloughed workers had to lock their computers so they wouldn’t be booted off the network servers. The max number of days they can do this is 45. The IRS instructed their employees to lock the computers for 30 days thinking that would be plenty of time for the Trump shutdown to resolve itself and they would all be back to work. The Trump shutdown was 35 days long so guess what, all of those computers were booted off the servers anyway and have to be reinstated by the IT department. How long do you think it takes to reinstate computers for 80,000 employees?
Not that it matters, because those 80,000 employees have yet to be trained on the new tax code and tax forms. This is something that usually takes place right after the first of the year with working computers so after the 5 day training period everyone can get right to work. But due to the Trump shutdown, the training period went from five days to two days while everyone waits for the IT department to put their computers back on the system. This likely will take at the very least a month before everyone is up and running again.
Once 80,000 employees receive their expedited training on the new tax code and forms, and their Windows 7 computers are up and running again – buzzing about-to-die fans and all – they can open up the command terminal and run the MS-DOS software that requires command codes to process our tax returns.
What about the new tax code and forms? The expedited training sessions IRS employees are going through confirms what the media has been saying all along about the “tax cut”: it’s a big money grab for the rich. If you’re single or a single parent with one child, you have a better chance of receiving some kind of refund. If you have more than one child, slim to none are your chances of seeing any refund at all. If you rely on family exemptions to keep the amount of tax you owe down, there is nothing but bad news for you. Those exemptions are gone.
The 2018 tax forms have been drastically changed from past 1040 returns. 1040A and 1040EZ are gone. Everyone turns in a form 1040 regardless of income, investments, and tax credits. Form 1040, just as promised, is now an extra large postcard that can be printed on one sheet of paper. What about tax credits? What about deductions? What about other taxes? What about refundable credits? What about additional income and all of the rest of the stuff that usually comes on 1040? Those parts of the tax return are now scattered over six separate schedules to fill out. Yes, you will still need all of those supplemental forms and worksheets to complete your taxes with the 1040 and 6 schedules that used to be part of 1040. The first thing you notice is that the Paperwork Reduction Act Notice at the bottom of each page seems ironic now. The next thing you will notice is your tax preparer charges by the page.
The reality of this tax season is it very likely will take the IRS a year to get caught up. New tax codes, new tax forms, and exemptions are gone. The rich will get more money while the poor will get none. Those 80,000 workers will still be doing this work on ancient hardware with a system that hasn’t been updated in years on decrepit computers running an operating system that Microsoft no longer supports after January 14, 2020. The delays will be long, and it’s guaranteed the federal government will owe hefty interest payments on those refunds the rich will be getting because of the delays.
80,000 IRS employees would like us to keep in mind that everything they do is at the direction of United States Congress, and these changes to our tax code were the work of the 115th United States Congress under the control of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Donald J. Trump. They ask that we be merciful.
The good news for the IRS? They got paid.