The issue of tax refunds being delayed due to the extended government shutdown has been and will likely continue to be like a game of ping pong – back and forth with different messages, at least until the shutdown is resolved and government employees can get back to work.
Is the IRS shut down?
In an article today from Snopes (https://www.snopes.com/news/2019/01/07/government-shutdown-may-delay-income-tax-refunds/), it is stated that the IRS isn’t completely closed, but reportedly only about 12% of its staff is working through the shutdown (without pay), and that group is primarily focused on security and technology. This being said, all IRS offices are closed and there is no available assistance from the IRS until the shutdown ends.
This is unfortunate as one of the major issues is there are new, significant tax regulations which took effect in 2018 that are going to complicate an already complicated tax season.
Issuing Tax Refunds
In another article that came out a little later today on The Hill (https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424208-white-house-irs-will-issue-tax-refunds-despite-shutdown), it was stated that the IRS will issue tax refunds despite shutdown. This is a claim from Russell Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, who communicated this to reporters during a briefing.
It remains unclear, however, whether the administration has the legal authority to hand out refunds during the partial shutdown, which is now in its third week.
At this point, the thing to remember is regardless of what happens with the government shutdown, filing deadline will still be April 15th.
Stay tuned for updates here.