If the shutdown continues, what happens tax refunds from the IRS?

My Facebook feed has suddenly blown up with people worried that the the IRS will not / can not sending tax refunds to those who qualify and file early.

Simple question: is there any truth to this? The IRS website wasn’t helpful. This seems like a pretty simple yes or no question, but Google is turning up all manner of news stories that all say different things.

The IRS wasn’t going to process returns, but the White House reserved that today.

Here is a link:

NPR - Despite 70,000 Furloughed IRS Workers, White House Vows Refunds Will Be Issued

If the workers are furloughed, what does it matter what the White House says? If there’s no one to do the work, there’s no one to order to do the work.

My guess is that much of the work is automated these days. I guess we won’t know for certain until one of us sends in our return and then either does or does not receive his(/her?) refund.

Any idea how many employees the IRS has total?

I wouldn’t trust a White House “vow” as far as I could throw it.

Pretty much what I was going to ask. The White House under Trump has never been particularly cognizant of the realities of the government of which it’s a part. Further, with something like 85% of its staff furloughed, I find it hard to believe anything will get done until after the shutdown.

Ok, don’t. If you three don’t send in your returns, that can only improve my chances of getting my refund processed.

The IRS has made it clear that the traditional April filing deadline remains in effect. The question is, what will they actually do with those returns? Theres no evidence you’ll get that refund or indeed if any returns will actually be processed during the shutdown.

Most returns (89%) are filed and processed electronically these days. You’ll likely get your refund just fine, if you are due one.

This article includes a link to the report the IRS put out in December about dealing with a shutdown highlights include:

There are 79,868 employees - 9,900 of whom were declared exempt from the furlough. 2,700 of those are enforcement agents, and about 3,000 are keeping the computers running and protecting data.

According to this Forbes story:

"Here’s a partial list of functions that directly impact taxpayers and would typically be put on hold during a government shutdown:

No tax refunds issued
No processing of non-disaster relief transcripts
No processing of forms 1040X, amended returns
No non-automated collections
No audit or examinations (some exceptions apply)
No legal counsel
No call center during Non-Filing Season

Here’s a partial list of functions that directly impact taxpayers which will typically continue during a government shutdown:

Processing of returns with payments
Processing disaster relief transcripts
E-filing up to the point of refunds
Design and printing of tax forms
Appeals (statutory deadlines will not be changed)
Certain civil and criminal tax cases (statute expiration, bankruptcy, liens and seizures cases)
Active criminal investigations
IRS.gov"

The whole report is 110 pages so have at it, but my quick read is that the IRS won’t be able to operate anywhere near normally without bringing back a lot of people. Even electronic filings need to be reviewed by Tax Examiners even if the bulk of the processing is done automatically.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/12/21/shutdown-looms-as-tax-season-approaches-what-can-taxpayers-expect-from-the-irs/#44d814996f6e

This.

It is not clear that the Whitehouse can do this - no funds are available to pay IRS employees and no way to redefine needed staff as essential, to force them to work without pay.

Don’t be absurd. Of course there’s “evidence”. I even posted a link to some in post #3. You may not like it, but it’s silly to pretend it’s not there.

Your link is claiming the “White House vows refunds will be paid”, not “refunds will be paid”. There is a difference between the two statements. How is the WH going to come up with $212+ billion?

Apropos of nothing, I vow mankind will discover the secrets to FTL.

Also, given this White House’s propensity for lying, why should we believe them?

There’s no timeframe. Refunds could be paid next year and Trump (and Ditka) will claim victory.

The IRS has just released an announcement.

Lol, so the IRS workers get to work for free too.

Appreciate the research, Alley Dweller.

Why wouldn’t the White House (i.e. head of the executive branch) have the power to redefine which federal workers are essential?

Because some Dopers are in denial?

Before you run your victory lap, I would not expect the IRS to be running at full capacity right off the bat. The IRS hires a lot of seasonal employees who start in January. While Dangerous Don may well be able to reclassify current employees as essential, I don’t know of a mechanism to hire new workers who can’t be paid. Nor too many people who would take an unpaid temp job with no guarantee of being paid.

Putting that aside, as someone who hires seasonal government employees I would expect that at best the expected start dates of the seasonal hires will be pushed back at least however long the people doing said hiring are out on furlough. Unless of course the certs for the jobs happen to expire during that period, in which case you need to fly the jobs again. Good times.