Does a government shutdown affect your tax filing?

After 35 days, the longest-ever government shutdown in the United States is over. However, there could still be significant effects on the 2019 tax season, especially as the possibility of another government shutdown looms.

Over the past month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had around 35 thousand fewer employees working than normal. While a government shutdown does not explicitly affect your tax filing, short staffing of IRS employees likely could. According to a recent article, the biggest effects from a government shutdown can come from customer support wait times and the amount of time it takes to receive a refund.

Longer customer service wait times

The start of 2019 came with many new changes to tax laws. Unfortunately, with only a little over half of the IRS staff working at this point, the customer service, technical support and helplines are already backlogged with questions.

If you are someone who typically waits until the last few weeks before the deadline to file your taxes, you might want to consider starting earlier this year. If you run into a question, you might not be able to get an answer before the deadline. Additionally, if you need to pay the IRS, the interest will keep accruing even if you cannot get in touch with an IRS employee.

Delays receiving refunds

In the past, the IRS could not issue refunds during a government shutdown. Luckily, this is no longer the case. However, during a government shutdown, Americans might notice it takes longer to receive their refunds.

Because the agency typically reviews any issues in a refund manually, it is extremely important to check your returns for errors this filing season. With almost half the IRS workers having been gone from work for weeks already, the wait times on reviewing returns could be much longer than previous years.

Filing taxes can be complex, especially during and after a government shutdown. It can be beneficial to consult with an experienced tax law attorney to ensure your taxes are filed properly this year.

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