Which “nonessential” federal government functions do you think you’ll need in the near future?

This is a follow up thread to some similar issues being discussed in other threads, such as this one:


For myself, I can think of two items:

  1. We have a trip planned to the Grand Canyon in March for my wife’s 50th birthday. She’s been planning it for years. She’ll be devastated if the park is closed.

  2. I need to get the passport of my son renewed sometime this year, probably this summer. If the State Department isn’t operating that’ll be impossible, might possibly majorly impact future travel plans.

I am looking forward to my income tax refund, assuming the IRS is up and running once my W-2s arrive.

I’m a state employee, but my job requires that I be in frequent contact with my federal counterpart. I’m currently awaiting a response to a time-sensitive email I sent right before her agency shut down. Additionally, a proposed regulation that I’m responsible for is about to go to public comment, and my federal counterpart will be unable to send in her agency’s comments–which are the ones that matter the most. I’m optimistic the shutdown will be over by the close of the comment period, but the president said this could go on for months. If that happens, a lot of rule-making at the state level will come to a stand still.

I’m on a steering committee that’s supposed to meet by conference call next week. It ain’t gonna happen, since the committee chair and organizer are currently stuck at home, watching daytime TV shows.

I planned a short trip to DC in March because I finally got a pass to the National Museum of African American History (I missed when I went in July). :smack: And I’m looking forward to my tax refund.

Income tax refund probably comes along first. Other than that I am probably good for the rest of the year other than float-down-dollars for highways and the like.

My wife’s passport expires in Sept. and she was planning to apply for a new one during the summer. Fortunately, she has a Canadian passport. But if she gets a snippy border guard who notices she was born in New York and wants to see a US passport, there could be a problem.

I currently need to talk to someone at the NSF about a grant proposal we are working on. Too bad…they are closed. What a cluster fuck, now known as a Trump Fuck. He couldn’t negotiate himself out of wet paper bag.

“Due to a lapse in appropriations, NSF is closed. NSF will continue to accept proposals in accordance with published deadlines. Please continue to watch this site for changes to NSF’s operating status, reopening guidance for employees and, if necessary, general instructions for awardees.”

We are heading to the Caribbean this weekend. I hope.

As far as the IRS, I’ll likely owe them a bit. They can stay shut down.

A nitpick - possibly minor, but as a govt employee, I sorta resent the general use of essential/nonessential.

Within the gov’t, in the context of furloughs/shutdowns, I have not heard of “services” being described as essential or not. Instead, it is “employees” who are designated as essential or not. Essential employees are required to work during a shutdown

I think it a pretty boneheaded choice of words by whomever came up w/ that designation in any event, as it makes it easy for jokesters to talk about a huge portion of employees and services that are nonessential - as in not needed.

I like your reasoning. They have been taking advantage of us Federal employees for years. They should give us all a stipend like they do in State and Federal Government.

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Think again.

[Paul Harvey] And now you know…the difference between essential and nonessential employees. [/Paul Harvey]

<nitpick> Passport services continue unaffected by the partial government shutdown since those services are fully funded by user fees. No danger of not being able to get or renew a passport.</nitpick>

I expect to need the services of the TSA for travel, but TSA is considered essential service. Same for Customs and Immigration at airports.

I’ll feel the impact of a delayed tax refund since issuing refunds is apparently a non-essential service.

Off the top of my head:
National Parks: lots of DC is maintained by the NPS and I would like it to stay clean and pleasant; I also own a cabin that borders the Shenandoah National Park and enter it at least twice a month;
TSA: I fly a lot and TSA staff are currently working and not getting paid. That seems to me to be a recipe for low morale and poor performance;
Federal prison guards: they are also working, but not getting paid. While I don’t plan on going to federal prison any time soon, I believe it is in my self interest for federal prison guards to be motivated to do their job professionally. I would think not paying guards is a recipe for encouraging them to engage in corrupt behavior to pay the bills.
The Coast Guard: Again, I don’t plan to be lost at sea, but I think that not paying the people responsible for risking their lives to save those who are is incredibly short sighted. Also, not paying the people responsible for preventing the smuggling of people and drugs seems like a recipe for them to either not do their job, or to engage in corruption to pay the bills. I remember hearing somewhere that border security is important, so it’s odd that we’re not paying the people responsible for a lot of it.

If you’re reliant on your income tax refund, why not have your employer adjust your withholdings to make up the difference?

TSA is the big one for me currently. I fly and bunch for work and I need to get my passport renewed for a trip to south america in March but since they are open its just the flying part that will impact me. A lot of my clients are impacted by the TTB shutting down and I’ve already started advising them to make adjustments to how they deal with their federal paperwork.

To respond to my OP, I just read that the state of Arizona has contingency plans to pay to keep Grand Canyon National Park open in case of a federal shutdown. According to the article, they realized during he last shutdown that the Grand Canyon is the state’s primary tourist attraction and couldn’t risk losing it again.

Doesn’t the IRS charge interest if you owe them money? Or not?

I am not an accountant.

Every year I pay my quarterly whatevs and at the end of the year I give my accountant a pile of stuff. I usually eventually have to write a small check.

It has to be at least $1000 and there are other exceptions that can allow you to owe even more without being penalized.

Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! I know the answer - pick me!

It’s because there are no reliable ways to project the tax you will owe. Even years when our income stayed basically the same, when we’ve adjusted the withholding we’ve either underpaid or overpaid a lot the next year. Not only does our income fluctuate a little year-to-year, but the tax laws change a lot every damn year. We just let the deductions ride and take the refund.

This ought to be straightforward: projecting income $X, tax laws mean taxes will be $Y, so Z deductions will cover the required withholding. Somehow nobody - especially the IRS - can build such a calculator that comes close to working in real life. This is not rocket science. It’s not Estes rocketry. Yet nobody does it right.
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