The longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended just in time for the kickoff of tax season today. But that doesn’t mean everything’s back to normal.
Many prognosticators expect a bumpy tax season thanks to the shutdown, combined with implementation of revisions to the tax code passed at the end of 2017.
According to The New York Times:
The Internal Revenue Service is scheduled to begin processing 2018 federal tax returns on Monday, but is facing two major challenges that threaten to make this tax time chaotic. Even with the government reopening, it will take a while for the I.R.S. to return to normal. The shutdown started as I.R.S. employees were in the midst of being trained about the sweeping changes that Congress made to the tax code in 2017, the head of the union representing the agency’s workers said. So I.R.S. employees may not initially be fully up to speed and able to answer questions and tackle the inevitable snafus.
Nearly three-fourths of all returns result in refunds, and the average refund last year was nearly $3,000, the I.R.S. reports. Many families rely on their refunds to make purchases or pay bills.
The I.R.S. has said it expects refunds to be issued on schedule. Typically, that means nine of 10 refunds are issued within 21 days, if the return was filed electronically and the refund is sent using direct deposit.
The Washington Post reports that a government watchdog expects it will take a year for the IRS to recover from the shutdown.
According to the Post:
The National Taxpayer Advocate, a government watchdog group that oversees the tax collector, has also told House staffers that it is likely to take at least a year for the IRS to return to normal operations, according to the two House aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the numbers.
The watchdog group told House staffers that the recovery would take between 12 and 18 months, one House aide said. These numbers assume the government does not shut down again in three weeks.