IRS commissioner: Not slowing tax refunds to help debt limit

The new IRS commissioner said Wednesday that the agency hasn’t talked about slowing down the delivery of tax refunds to give policymakers more breathing room on the debt ceiling.

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“There have been no such discussions,” the commissioner, John Koskinen, told reporters after a hearing. “We are running the filing season as we normally would, and we’re processing refunds in the normal course.”

The debt ceiling, after being suspended last year, goes back into effect this week. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has estimated that the “extraordinary measures” his department uses to continue paying the government’s bills once that happens won’t be as effective this time around.

A major reason for that is the government generally makes larger payouts than usual in February, because it’s sending refunds to taxpayers. Lew has estimated that extraordinary measures will be exhausted by the end of this month.

Even so, House Republicans have struggled to piece together a measure raising the debt ceiling.