It’s that time of year, no, not tax season, it’s time for the government to shutdown! We won’t get into why they government shuts down but seriously, it’s becoming an annual event. In recent news there have been stories floating around that a government shutdown meant that tax refunds would not be issued, but that tax liabilities would still be collected. Of course, that sounds exactly like the IRS, pay them regardless but they won’t pay you until absolutely necessary. Luckily, the news stories about the refund hostage crisis are not true. Reference a 2011 IRS memo that argues tax refunds can be paid out during a shutdown. Not to mention the uprising that would ensue when you’re taking money from the American taxpayers.
Since December 22, 2018, President Donald Trump and lawmakers have been at a standoff over several spending bills which are expiring. The key issue pertains to Trump’s demand for funding for border security via a border wall on the US-Mexico border as a part of the Homeland Security appropriations bill. We’re going to keep political neutral here, but that one fact is the crux of why we’re in a federal shutdown situation. Regardless of the “why”, politicians continue to struggle with how to extend funding for federal operations caused a government shutdown.
What Departments Are Closed? Open?
This shutdown is a partial shutdown and thus only about a quarter of governmental agencies are closed. National parks, immigration courts and state department services are among those which are closed. SNAP benefits will only be available through the end of January 2019. Mail is still being delivered and social security checks are still being sent out. TSA agents are still working and thus travel has not been majorly affected. In addition to TSA agents, border patrol and the military are still working, but are currently without pay.
The Effect on Tax Season
The Trump administration confirmed last week that yes, refunds will still be issued this tax season and therefore returns will be accepted per usual starting January 28, 2019. The IRS website is still operational so if you need quick information you can head over there to get some of your questions answered.
Unfortunately, there is still no live person assistance available by phone. When you try to call you will receive a notification that “no live telephone customer service assistance is available at this time.” But, this should be changing soon. On January 16th, it was announced that over 46,000 IRS employees will return to work, which is over 50% of their workforce. Thus, IRS operations will be starting up once again in time for tax season, but they will be limited due to the limited number of workers. Once they do open the phone lines expect longer wait times as they have been down for almost 4 weeks.
As always, the best CPA in Charlotte is here to help! Even though the government can’t help you, we can! We’re open for business and happy to help however we can. Do not hesitate to reach out if any of your tax and accounting seems overwhelming. Our firm will still be preparing and filing tax returns as normal so let us know what we can do to assist you!