Differing reports have caused mass confusion for taxpayers as to whether they will receive their tax refunds on time during the government shutdown.
The White House has assured taxpayers that returns will not be affected during the longest government shutdown in American history, but many government services will remain limited. Several agencies, including the IRS, remain unfunded as President Donald Trump and Congress remain at odds over Trump’s request for more than $5 billion to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“People will receive their returns as scheduled, with no delay,” said Nancy Reeves, owner and operator of Tax Express in Huntsville. “However, the 2017 earned income and child tax credits will not be processed until Feb. 15 and will not be received by the end of the month.”
The Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that it will begin to process tax returns for refunds on Jan. 28. IRS officials earlier this year said refunds could be delayed, according to various news outlets. Many of the same outlets last week quoted Office of Management and Budget acting director Russell Vought saying refunds would indeed be paid even if the government is shut down.
Currently, only 12 percent of IRS employees are working, without pay, with those working focused on security and technology issues. Authorities have said that employees will be required to return to process returns whether the shutdown ends or not.
According to officials, services that will be provided by the IRS during the shutdown include processing electronic and paper returns, processing disaster relief transcripts, design and printing of tax forms and accepting payment. The services that will not be offered are answering phone calls, processing 10-40 returns and conducting audits or examinations of returns.
“The issue we have locally is trying to work with the IRS,” Reeves added. “We cannot make calls to them or process certain returns. The problem for us if the shutdown continues would be trying to set up payment plans or preventing the IRS from levying accounts. Anything that we need their assistance with.”
Returns will be distributed through February as scheduled. The IRS issued 102 million tax refunds last year with a total value of $285 billion, according to eFile, a tax software site.
“The government workers deemed not essential are furloughed,” Reeves said. “The IRS workers who do the refunds are considered essential.
“File your taxes on time. The shutdown does not mean that you do not need to pay them this year.”
April 15 is the deadline to file taxes.