We have made it through the holidays. Here is to hoping that they reinvigorated you and have you set to take on 2019.
Around here, that means getting ready to take on the first tax season under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Well, as long as the government still works when it is time to file …
Yes, that whole government shutdown thing must be addressed when a lot of what we are going to be concerned with over the first part of the year is submitting information (and money) to that government.
Currently, the IRS is being run with a number of critical employees to keep it functioning. As long as this shutdown endures, we will hear adjectives like “critical,” “necessary,” and “essential” being used when it comes to which employees are still working. Rest assured that the government will find the number of people needed to process and collect taxes essential, critical, and necessary.
Exactly when filing season begins and when the IRS begins processing returns could still be a little bit up in the air. If the shutdown continues for a prolonged period, I would not be terribly surprised if the beginning of that period was pushed back a little bit. I would, however, be extremely surprised if that led to the end of the season changing. So however much time you thought you had to file your taxes, that’s going to be the amount of time that you have to file your taxes.
This could, however, result in refunds being delayed. The government is going to want you filing on time still, but if they have a reduced staff, they will not be able to get money back to taxpayers as quickly. The IRS’s shutdown plan actually includes those delays. If you are interested in exactly what the agency’s plan was in case of shutdown, you can view a complete report from last month here.
So typically the IRS gives refunds within 21 days of a return being filed, and a shutdown won’t mean that the government doesn’t give that money, just don’t make any financial plans that count on rapidly getting that money back, because we don’t know when it would be coming.
That feels like a lot of information in a short space. So let me try to close with a summary.
I do not have a crystal ball and do not want to guess at how long this shutdown lasts. What we do know, though, is that it means the IRS is currently working with decreased staff.
No matter how long the shutdown goes on for, the IRS is going to have enough staff to continue to accept and process tax returns whenever the filing season starts.
Therefore, do not put off getting ready for that season. January is here and that means that you’re going to start receiving some of your tax forms. The quicker you put them together, the less stress you are going to feel as we move through the next few months.
And yes, it may not be fun to have to wait for a refund if a shutdown progresses to that point, but do no put off preparation and filing because of it. That would just add to the stress.
And another way to help ease those potential strains is to make a tax prep appointment now so we can start getting you ready for your return and have a lot of time to make the new rules work best for you.
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