Annual IRS Maintenance Blackout for MeF Returns



Is there a "blackout" period when MeF returns cannot be e-filed due to IRS server maintenance procedures?

The IRS accepts e-file of individual and business returns for the current and two prior years - for example, during the 2020 filing season (tax year 2019), 2017, 2018, and 2019 returns will be eligible for e-file. All other prior returns must be paper-filed. The IRS has an annual maintenance period during which certain types of returns are not accepted electronically. This is also referred to as the e-filing shutdown or cutover schedule. 

See Related Links for scheduled outages in addition to the annual maintenance period. 

Individual Returns

The individual shutdown for tax year 2019 began on Saturday, November 21, 2020. Submission transmission ended at 11:55 p.m. EST; acknowledgment retrieval from IRS ended at 11:59 p.m. EST. 

  • This shutdown prevents e-filing of individual returns.
  • Any acknowledgements not retrieved by 11:59 p.m. on November 21st cannot be accessed until MeF opens for production on February 12, 2021.
  • At that time the current and two prior years can be e-filed. 

Note: The IRS has extended filing deadlines for some taxpayers affected by natural disasters (wildfires) to 12/15/2020, however, the e-file system will not be available during the shutdown to allow for e-filing of those returns. Any individual returns needing to be filed between November 21, 2020 and when the IRS opens in February 2021 will need to be paper-filed. 

Business Returns

The business shutdown for tax year 2019 begins on Saturday, December 26, 2020. Submission transmissions end at 11:59 a.m. EST; acknowledgment retrieval from IRS ends at 11:59 p.m. EST. 

  • This shutdown will prevent e-filing of business returns.
  • Any acknowledgements not retrieved by 11:59 p.m. on December 26th cannot be accessed until MeF opens for production on January 8, 2021.The IRS will begin accepting all business tax returns at 9 a.m. Eastern on January 8, 2021.
  • At that time the current and two prior years can be e-filed. 

States

States can continue to use all the service requests necessary to retrieve and process state submissions until shutdown activities shown above. MeF recommends that states adjust their processing schedule in order to retrieve submissions in time to validate returns and submit acknowledgements.

Some states, such as California, still allow for e-filing of state-only (a.k.a direct) individual returns even when the IRS is shutdown. 

More MeF service information may be available at the IRS MeF Status Page.