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White House: Tax returns will be sent out despite government shutdown

White House says tax refunds ‘will go out’ but tax professionals say be prepared White House says tax refunds ‘will go out’ but tax professionals say be prepared
Ginger Lawrence | 10 January, 2019, 04:40

Millions of U.S. taxpayers will still receive refunds despite an ongoing partial government shutdown, the White House has said.

But fear not, the White House says; tax refund checks will be sent out, even though the IRS, part of the Treasury Department, is for the most part closed.

Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought emphasized during a Monday briefing with reporters that the Trump administration has worked to make the partial government shutdown as painless as possible consistent with the law.

While the shutdown's repercussions ripple across the country, Vice-President Mike Pence has told reporters the president has not yet decided whether to declare a national emergency in order to bypass congressional approval for the US-Mexico border wall.

Although 70,000 IRS employees are furloughed, the agency has also announced that it "will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce".

Concern has been growing that hundreds of billions of dollars in refunds would be delayed until the shutdown ends because funding for them wouldn't be available.

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"When I look in my tax software, which is professional tax software, there are many forms that haven't been finalized", said Steven Zelin, a CPA based in Manhattan.

The shift from the White House comes as officials prepare for an extended shutdown.

Some experts question whether the Trump administration has the legal authority to reverse earlier policies to allow government money to flow into refunds during a shutdown.

Issuing refunds on time would make it easier for President Donald Trump to continue the shutdown without affecting taxpayers waiting for money. The IRS says it is still working on contingencies if the shutdown continues. Those who need the refunds the most are also usually among the first to file during the January to April tax season.

To minimize errors and provide faster refunds, the IRS recommends people to file their tax returns electronically. Enacted by Republicans in December 2017, the changes provided for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts mainly financed by government deficits.

And while that work is likely being done by the IRS personnel who remain on the job, Miller said there is a lot of other work that isn't, including training in the new tax law for those who answer the IRS help line. The IRS had issued more than 6 million refunds, totaling $12.6 billion - an average refund of $2,035.