The tax system will feel the effects of the federal shutdown for a long time. The five-week closure in Dec. and Jan. couldn’t have come at a worse time for IRS, which was gearing up for the 2019 filing season, its first under the tax reform law. Some experts say it could take the Service up to 18 months to recover. IRS lost about 125 IT employees…averaging 25 for each shutdown week. Given the agency’s antiquated computer systems, losing these people is a big deal. Training customer service workers on the new tax law was also delayed. This will likely affect the already dismal level of service on IRS’s toll-free help lines. There’s a huge mail backlog…over 5 million pieces of unprocessed mail. So if you mailed correspondence to the agency during the shutdown, good luck. The audit rate for 2019 will plunge, since enforcement was put on hold. IRS will have a difficult task attracting and retaining talented workers, especially millennials. Fear of future shutdowns may lead existing employees to retire early or flee to the private sector, adding to IRS’s ongoing brain drain problem. Over 33% of IRS employees are over age 55, and only 125 workers are under age 26.