Tax refunds will be delayed if government shutdown moves on

Jermaine Castillo
January 7, 2019

A senior US lawmaker asked the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department on Friday how the ongoing partial government shutdown would affect the processing of income tax filings and refunds this year.

He says that the IRS can process tax returns during a shutdown, but it can't hand over tax refunds.

"The unknown. The unknown of when the IRS is going to start accepting tax returns, when the government is going to open back up, when can we expect our refund", said tax adviser Marlena Curtis.

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It will be harder for taxpayers to get assistance from the agency right now as well since call sites and responding to taxpayer questions are among the items cited as activities subject to the shutdown.

According to CNN, the IRS has yet to announce when people can begin submitting their tax returns, but "any gap in individuals not receiving money they're owed will put pressure on President Trump and lawmakers to strike a deal quickly".

There is a new concern as the partial government shutdown drags on. In early 2018, in preparation for potential shutdowns during the filing season, the IRS contingency plan made 43.5% of the agency's workforce exempt, suggesting many more staffers will return to work as filing season begins. The agency is not issuing refunds, updating tax forms or answering phone help lines, according to its shutdown plans. Customers are asking how and when they should file their taxes, as the partial government shutdown continues. That's on top of an already complicated tax season, due to the myriad of new regulations ushered in by 2017's sweeping tax reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

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Nikali Luke with Simplified Tax and Accounting Services says there are two problems for tax payers during the shutdown.

And, more broadly, the remaining 12.5 percent of IRS employees still working are mostly those classified as serving "in the protection of life and property".

The likelihood of this delay shouldn't stop you from filing early through. Indeed, many retailers count on people to spend more money in February. "Normal operations will resume as soon as possible".

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