Government shutdown could delay tax refunds

Jeannie Matthews
January 7, 2019

If the shutdown continues into the filing season, the IRS could conceivably call back a larger portion of its workforce, according to a union official.

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

The agency has categorized issuing tax refunds as a "non-excepted" activity - meaning those tasked with processing refunds would be furloughed during a shutdown.

"We're in uncharted territory as each day gets longer", Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc., told the newspaper.

The shutdown plan cuts staffing at the IRS by 88 per cent, and the agency will not conduct audits or answer taxpayer questions under the current shutdown plan.

He said he's already had clients asking how the shutdown will impact their tax returns and when they should file their taxes.

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This year, the April 15 tax deadline won't change with or without the government shutdown. He said some taxpayers were also going to see a delay so the government can make sure their documents aren't fraudulent.

The possibility of a lengthy stalemate could complicate this year's tax season, the first under the new law passed by Congress in 2017.

"All rules still apply, need to get taxes filed, if you owe, pay, need to pay taxes on time", Land said.

"Don't look for this filing season to be open even at the end of January".

Taxpayers who've been counting on a tax refund to pay off credit-card bills from Christmas spending may feel themselves squeezed, in other words. "I think people are wondering when this is going to end and how this affects the IRS's ability to process returns and process refunds". WSJ reported the IRS paid out $12.6 billion in refunds by February 2 of previous year.

"We're now in unprecedented territory here", he said.

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