The government shutdown continues with many of the 880,000 federal workers still on furlough. Many news reports claim, however, that the IRS is preparing for the beginning of the tax filing season on January 28 by recalling 46,052 workers (or 57 percent of the 80,265 workers on staff) to work. Much to the consternation of many including the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), most of these workers will not be paid until the government reopens. The IRS has previously been operating with only 12.5 percent of its staff, which is less than 10,000 employees.
What does this mean for those filing?
Despite a longstanding policy of not paying refunds to corporations or individuals during a shutdown, the agency is committed to paying out tax refunds. “Tax refunds will go out,” said Russell Vought, acting director of Office Management and Budget. He also said the Trump Administration is devising a plan to make the shutdown “as painless as possible, consistent with the law.”
Will it actually happen?
The one thing that has been consistent during the shutdown and in recent years has been the fact that details change on a daily or hourly basis. The NTEU has filed suits challenging the government’s move to require employees to work without pay and the government entering into financial agreements (such as paying back pay) while the shutdown is in effect.
The filing season will happen in 2019, but experts are wondering if it will actually happen as currently planned. While employees are expected to dig into retirement plans or carry balances on credit cards to pay bills, some may not be able or willing to do so. One recall points out that Treasury workers simply may not be able to put gas in their cars to show up for work.
Protecting one’s interest now more important than ever
In light of these developments and the many still to come, it is important for individuals and businesses filing taxes or facing disputes with the IRS to seek guidance from knowledgeable tax law attorneys. They can help determine an effective strategy amidst this time of uncertainty.