Government Shutdown = No Tax Refund for You!

Jeanne Sager

tax returnAs the threat of a government shutdown looms ever closer, there are too many Americans sitting at home or work today going about their business, treating this whole debacle like it's no big deal. So maybe this will get their attention. If the Republicans can't get out of our uteruses (uteri) today, you can kiss your IRS refund goodbye ... at least for awhile.

That got you, didn't it? See, today the GOP is still yammering on about a policy rider to cut Title 10 funding, which provides a few hundred million in grants for clinics like Planned Parenthood. Despite a gazillion notations that, ahem, no federal funding goes to abortions anyway (don't believe me? It's called the Hyde Amendment ... read it), they'd prefer to cut women's access to health care today than make a deal with the Democrats to keep the government running. And the government? That includes the IRS. 

Already late with refunds this year because of Congressional changes to the tax laws signed by Obama in December that pushed back filing dates, the IRS has some 111 million refunds to process on an annual basis. About one third of the tax returns sent in are done in paper form, requiring an actual person to sit down, review them, and process a refund.

The shutdown will take "non-essential" employees out of federal offices, including IRS staffers. If the government is shut down, there won't be staff people to process paper returns (ironically, President Barack Obama's increased budget request would up the staff at the IRS, another sticking point for Republicans). Americans who file electronically should be OK; the computer will take care of making direct deposits into filers' bank accounts.

Of course there are currently no plans to move tax day and give Americans whose money the government is sitting on a little break in filing. We all still have to get things in to the IRS by April 18; shutdown or no shutdown. So they'll be using your money to "function," such as it is. They're hitting us where it hurts -- our wallets.

So you can go on thinking that this is just something in Washington, and you can carry on with life. Or you can look at all the niggling ways this creeps out of Washington and into the lives of everyday Americans.

Still think the Republicans' refusal to accept the Hyde Amendment is no big deal? Still blase about a government shutdown?


Image via Casey Serin/Flickr

Read More