Here’s something extra that taxpayers seeking to contact the Internal Revenue Service might soon have to start thinking about: Will its offices be open?

That is far more than an academic question, given the money shortfalls the national tax agency is dealing with owing to a congressional budget ax that is lopping off huge amounts of cash the IRS says it desperately needs to operate efficiently.

Here’s how bad it reportedly is. The United States Congress has not been particularly enamored of the agency’s performance in recent years, and has responded by making successive — and material — budget cuts to its operations. Legislators again took their budget scissors out just last week, slashing the IRS budget for next year by $350 million. It has been estimated that the agency would need to shut down entirely for more than two weeks to bridge that budget gap.

Commentators are understandably pointing to the harsh effects that an IRS door closing would visit on taxpayers. Those would obviously be exacerbated if an agency furlough occurred during the upcoming filing season.

As a media article discussing that potentiality — which has been mentioned by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen — notes, a closure could spell very real problems for filers trying to communicate personally with agents regarding matters such as audits, frozen bank accounts, liens and levies, and other important considerations.

The IRS has clearly faced some challenges in recent years, with the current news regarding budget constraints being just the latest manifestation.

A former IRS commissioner recently noted the potential for “a general deterioration of the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.” That clarion call might well underscore the need for increasingly more filers with pressing tax-related problems to work closely with a proven tax attorney to timely and accurately resolve IRS-related disputes.

Source: Politico, “How bad would an IRS shutdown be?” Rachael Bade, Dec. 19, 2014