If you're of a certain age, you remember what it was like when you got back to work after taking off a week or two.
You were swamped.
In those days, we didn't have cell phones or Internet access to email boxes or even email boxes. Things literally just piled up, waiting for us to return to our desks.
Yes, I know, alphabet generation. It was the technological the stone age.
Well, that's essentially what the 86,000 or so Internal Revenue Service employees who were forced out of their offices for 16 days are dealing with right now.
The returning IRS workers will, of course, complain about the backlog; they are, despite things you've heard, only human. But I'll guarantee that they are glad to be back. Not only do they want and need the paychecks, like most of us they want to do their jobs.
And here are the jobs that IRS workers across the country are getting back to today.
If you're waiting for a refund, IRS staff are back to push that through the system. This includes refunds connected with tax returns sent before Oct. 1, the day the government shutdown began, as well as those that came in since then as people met the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline.
The IRS will resume sending tax transcripts to third parties. This means that the loan officer handling your mortgage request now can get the IRS verification to get you into your new home.
And if you need help, real people will be answering phone calls again and opening doors at local Taxpayer Assistance Centers and Taxpayer Advocate Service offices.
Remember, though, over these last couple of weeks a lot of folks have been saving up their questions for the IRS. So, says the agency, it's expecting high telephone demand. That means you might be on hold for a while.
Similarly, as the IRS ramps back up, its walk-in offices around the country may open at staggered times. Check with them about operating hours before you head out.
All those IRS services you wished were furloughed forever also are back.
Lien and levy notices will be going out again. Yes, some of these were issued during the 16 days the federal government was shut down, but they were generated before the IRS closed most of its doors.
Now this collection process paperwork will resume. So if you get such a notice, don't ignore it. The IRS is back and it will follow through.
That leads to the next IRS activity that's back in full force: enforcement actions, such as property seizures. During the shutdown, only essential enforcement actions -- that is, steps necessary to protect the government's interest -- were conducted.
Now, however, if you ignored earlier lien or levy notices, the returning to work IRS agents will take enforcement steps.
Please be patient: Regardless of what interaction you'll have with the IRS, the agency has one thing to ask of all of us. Please be patient.
"Initial delays can be expected as the IRS resumes full operations and works through backlogged inventory," says the IRS in its official we're back statement.
If your tax issue isn't urgent -- and yes, the IRS knows that everyone believes his or her tax matter is of critical importance, but maybe take another look -- the IRS suggests you wait to call or visit a local branch.
Basically, the IRS is asking for us to cut it some slack -- "We appreciate your patience as we restart our efforts on behalf of the nation," is the official plea -- as its workers dig through all that stuff on their desks and computers.
I know it's hard, but you'll probably have a better tax experience if you can give the IRS a few more days to resettle.You also might find these items of interest: