Amid concerns that an extended partial federal government shutdown would prevent tax refund checks from being printed, White House officials said on Monday that the IRS will pay out refunds if the shutdown continues into tax season.
The question of whether tax refunds will be issued on time has loomed larger the longer the shutdown lingers.
During a Monday afternoon briefing, White House Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought and Vice President Mike Pence spoke to reporters about the Trump administration's directions for the IRS.
The Trump administration reversed a long-standing policy which would have prohibited the IRS to issue refunds during the partial shutdown that began December 22, the Wall Street Journal reported. The average tax refund paid during February previous year was more than $3,000, and allowing that money to be paid could prevent an outcry from many taxpayers. The IRS has not yet announced when individuals and businesses can file their returns, but it's anticipated they could later this month or early next month.
This afternoon reporter Paula Reid confirmed with White House officials that tax refunds will go out. If that money had been frozen during the government shutdown, Trump could have found himself under enormous pressure to change his approach and back down in his demand for money to erect sections of wall along the Mexico border. Vought framed the move as part of President Donald Trump's goal to make the shutdown "as painless as possible".
The IRS said it will recall a "significant portion" of its roughly 52,000 furloughed employees to work on tax returns. That's within the normal timeframe.
While the government shutdown affects multiple sectors there are still some government workers making sure things get done like the Internal Revenue Service. "I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period".
Tax filing season usually begins in mid-January, and if the shutdown is resolved by then it may have little lasting impact on taxpayers.
However, since irs.gov is up and running, taxpayers can handle some tax business through the website.
The IRS paid out $12.6 billion by February 2, 2018, to more than 6 million households; $101.2 billion to nearly 32 million households by February 16; and had doled out $212 billion in refunds by the end of March 2018 to 73 million households, according to TheWSJ. But it ended up cutting in other areas, with the result that the agency budget is about the same - $11.4 billion - as in recent years.