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In Shutdown, a 'Wrench' in Getting Your Tax Refund?

IRS employees who process tax refunds are among first to be furloughed
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2019 9:12 AM CST
This May 8, 2008, file photo shows blank checks on an idle press at the Philadelphia Regional Financial Center, which disburses payments on behalf of federal agencies, in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Newser) – The Internal Revenue Service may not be anyone's favorite government agency, but many taxpayers may be pulling for it to regain full staffing over the next few weeks. That's because tax refunds may be delayed this year, thanks to the partial government shutdown, USA Today reports. Per a Treasury Department plan created in late November, issuing tax refunds is considered a "non-excepted" activity, meaning workers responsible for carrying out this task could be put on furlough during a shutdown. Right now, the IRS is working under a contingency plan for the non-filing season that has it operating with only 12.5% of its employees. As we head into tax season (the IRS hasn't publicized a start date yet), those plans will be updated, a source tells CNN.

But, the site notes, during a shutdown the agency usually doesn't do audits, answer questions, or dole out tax refunds. The shutdown "does throw a little bit of [a] wrench into things," a Tax Foundation economist says. The Wall Street Journal, which points out the IRS will still have workers on hand to process tax payments, notes that by Feb. 2 of last year, some 6 million households had received $12.6 billion in refunds. Per Business Insider, if the shutdown is itself shut down over the next few weeks, taxpayers might not feel the tax refund hit. (This shutdown could set a record.)

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