The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is in the midst of a very stressful January. In addition to the passage of a new tax law, the federal agency has also had to deal with a government shutdown.
What happens during the shutdown? CNN recently published a piece answering this question. Essentially, a shutdown does not mean every government funded program stops. If this were so, schools, police stations, various health and social programs would all cease to operate. This would include the IRS.
However, instead of a complete standstill certain operations will continue and others will stop. To determine what continues and what does not the government takes into consideration which employees are essential. Employees deemed “non-essential” are put into “furlough.” Work will not resume for non-essential employees until Congress can put together an agreement.
How does this impact tax returns? Some employees within the IRS are considered nonessential and will be placed on furlough. Others that are needed to keep the IRS running will remain. Also, Vox reports the IRS was not intending to start the return process until January 29. As such, as long as a resolution is reached before January 29 and the shutdown is no longer in effect, it should not impact most tax returns.
Although tax returns for 2017 should not be impacted, there are others that could experience a delay. Those who are still awaiting returns from 2016, for example, could experience additional delays. Delays could also arise for those who are attempting to navigate a tax dispute with the agency.