Relief for taxpayers? The administration says there will not be delays to tax refunds despite a government shutdown stretching into its third week. Acting White House budget office director Russell Vought says refunds will go out on time. He told reporters Monday that rules will be changed to make the payments possible and there will be an "indefinite appropriation" available, the AP reports. The Internal Revenue Service doesn't usually issue refunds—or answer taxpayers' questions—during shutdowns, but the agency said Monday that a "significant portion" of its 52,000 furloughed employees will be recalled.
"We have tried to make this as painless as possible, consistent with the law," Vought said, per the BBC. Former Commissioner of Internal Revenue Steven Miller, however, believes the agency is going to have a hard time. "It was always going to be a stretch for a very stretched IRS" to deal with this filing season because of tax cuts and other changes that took effect on Jan. 1 last year, he tells NPR. He says that even if the agency manages to keep phone lines open to answer questions from taxpayers, whether workers will have been properly trained in the new tax law "is a real issue" in his mind. (As the shutdown continues, TSA screeners are calling in sick.)