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Government shutdown could mean delayed tax returns

07 January, 2019, 01:48 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • Elaine Thompson  AP

Knuff, who has prepared tax returns in Cleveland for 40 years, said people have gotten use to receiving their refunds in just a couple weeks.

While refunds aren't being processed during the government shutdown, the IRS is taking payments. And during shutdowns, the service typically doesn't perform audits, offer assistance to taxpayers, or pay refunds. The agency is now operating with only 12.5 percent of its workforce, with 10,000 federal employees due to the partial government shutdown.

Each year on April 15, tax procrastinators frantically gather paperwork and file their returns before the deadline.

However: Several tax returns have been called "Necessary for the Safety of Human Life or Protection of Government Property".

The partial government shutdown may significantly delay tax refunds from the IRS.


According to the IRS contingency plan, only 9,946 of it's 80,000 employees work during a shutdown. Customers are asking how and when they should file their taxes, as the partial government shutdown continues.

In addition, the agency received some two-year appropriations to implement the new tax law, so some activities related to the new law have been continuing, including updating technology and publications. That could affect individuals and families that rely on that money.

While refunds may be delayed by the IRS, there are options available to receive your money as fast as possible. The government may add people back to staff its toll-free phone lines once filing season starts, though it hasn't provided details yet.

Tax filing season usually begins in mid-January, and if the shutdown is resolved by then it may have little lasting impact on taxpayers.

The likelihood of this delay shouldn't stop you from filing early through.

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