Will the government shutdown affect filing my taxes?

The federal government remains in a partial shutdown as the president and congress go toe to toe over border security. This means that 880,000 federal employees are currently on furlough, including seven in eight of those at the Internal Revenue Service. Experts believe that there will be no delays in the processing and issuing of returns as long as the shutdown does not drag on past the middle of January. It should also be noted that tax payers can file online or submit them via the mail even if the government is shut down.

Workers could be called back

Even if the shutdown continues past mid-January, there is the possibility that tens of thousands of IRS workers will be called back into work (without pay until the government reopens) as the tax season starts to heat up in February.

What about my refund?

Traditionally, the IRS does not start accepting filings until after the first of the year and then starts issuing refunds after a few weeks. The short answer to the above question is that refunds will not be forthcoming during the shutdown. Those who were waiting for a refund from filing in 2018 will also have to wait.

Other IRS services that are affected

As of early January, the Treasury Department lists several other functions of the IRS have stopped:

  • Audits
  • Non-automated collections
  • 1040x processing
  • Legal counsel
  • Tax payer services
  • Information systems functions
  • Planning, research, development and training
  • Most headquarters and administrative functions not related to safety or protection
  • Implementation of new tax laws under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs act

Now is the time to prepare

Whether you are a private citizen or a business, those audited or are attempting to resolve a dispute should look at this time as a chance to regroup and plan their defense. Working with a knowledgeable tax law attorney can help defend and expedite issues when the government is functioning normally, but it becomes even more important during this time of uncertainty.