Filing season for the 2017 tax year – the time when the Internal Revenue Service begins processing returns – will begin on Jan. 29. If Congress can’t reach a funding agreement tonight and many government services shut down, there could be a delay for those waiting on their tax refunds.
According to the Center for American Progress, 90 percent of IRS workers were off the job during 2013’s 16-day government shutdown. As a result, some $2.2 billion worth of tax refunds to individuals were delayed.
“This was not the only impact of the shutdown at the IRS: Taxpayers were unable to receive tax help from in-person sites or by phone, the IRS could not verify incomes for people attempting to buy a house or get a loan, and $1.5 billion in refunds to businesses were delayed,” CAP said.
The IRS has traditionally not issued refunds during a shutdown. IRS assistance centers and phone lines would also close and no audits would be conducted.
Nearly 155 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed ahead of this year’s April 2017 tax deadline. The IRS generally issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.
In 2013, the IRS warned taxpayers they should expect longer wait times or limited service in the weeks after the shutdown.
“Initial delays can be expected as the IRS resumes full operations and works through backlogged inventory,” the IRS said. “We appreciate your patience as we restart our efforts on behalf of the nation.”