Extended government shutdown would likely delay billions of dollars in income-tax refunds

Billions of dollars in income-tax refunds will likely be delayed if the federal government shutdown continues much longer, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is one the several federal agencies affected by the ongoing partial government shutdown.

Though the IRS is still able to carry out many operations during the shutdown – including conducting criminal investigations, protecting government property and processing returns that arrive with payments – the federal agency is unable to pay out.

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If the shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, is resolved within several weeks, it will reportedly have little impact on taxpayers expecting refunds. 

But should the shutdown stretch further into mid-to-late January, which is typically when the individual income-tax filing season begins, those who generally file early for their taxes can expect their refunds to be delayed, according to the Journal.

The IRS reportedly paid $12.6 billion in refunds to over six million households by Feb. 2, 2018, $101.2 billion to roughly 32 million households by Feb. 16, and $212 billion to 73 million households by March 30. 

Those who usually file early for tax refunds tend to rely on the payback to pay off debt and catch up on bills, according to the publication. 

However, Floyd Williams, a former IRS director of legislative affairs, told the Journal that wealthier filers “generally have more sophisticated returns and file later so they should not be affected as much” by a prolonged shutdown. 

The shutdown, now in its 13th day, was spurred largely by the President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE’s demand for $5 billion for his long-desired U.S.–Mexico border wall.

Democrats have indicated they will not give in to the president's demands, instead offering $1.3 billion for border security.

The new Democratic majority is expected to vote on a funding bill later on Thursday after taking control of the House.