I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the government is in a partial shutdown.
You may have heard rumors that amidst this shutdown, the IRS is going to have trouble issuing tax refunds.
Thankfully, the IRS has debunked that rumor, claiming the authority to issue refunds even in the midst of a shutdown, along with the authority to recall many of its furloughed workers during its busiest time of the year.
Don’t Bank on Getting Your Refund Quickly
That doesn’t mean everything is going to go smoothly. This is the first year taxpayers will be filing under new tax law, and that is bound to cause lots of confusion.
While the IRS claims authority to be able to issue refunds as normal, it currently only has 12% of its workforce at the ready.
A portion of the recalled workers who are currently furloughed will return in time to file returns on January 28, but they presumably won’t be receiving pay until the government opens again.
As we have seen with the TSA, unpaid workers are more likely to call off. If the same pattern proliferates to IRS employees, it could spell slowdowns as taxpayers try to get their questions about new tax law answered and tens of millions of Americans file returns which qualify for refunds within the first week.
Despite the IRS’s assumed ability to issue tax refunds during a shutdown, your money may be slow to get to you as fewer hands file returns which require extra attention after the biggest legislative tax change since the Reagan years.
You Still Need to File Early
Even if you don’t get your tax refund in a timely manner, it’s important to file your taxes early. Regardless of the government shutdown, identity thieves are likely to be up to their old tricks.
If an identity thief files a tax return in your name before you do, they can easily get your tax refund.
This usually happens when the criminal files a fraudulent W-2 with your Social Security number, which means you may not even be owed a refund, but the thief claimed the cash anyway.
Tax identity theft peaked in the middle portion of this decade. The IRS put new measures in place in 2016 to address this issue. While they produced a notable decline in successful identity theft attempts, the problem still looms large.
To protect yourself from becoming a victim, the IRS urges taxpayers to be on alert for email phishing scams and to create strong passwords when filing digitally.
If you use a tax preparer, it’s also not a bad idea to ask them about what security measures they have in place to protect your tax data within their own electronic systems.
The number one way you can beat identity thieves at tax time is by filing your return before they do. Don’t let the government shutdown and potentially delayed refunds discourage you from beating them to the punch.
But at the end of the day, the number one way you can beat identity thieves at tax time is by filing your return before they do. Don’t let the government shutdown and potentially delayed refunds discourage you from beating them to the punch.
File as soon as you get all of your W-2s, 1099s and other tax documents from employers and financial institutions, and you’re less likely to become a victim.
Late or timely refunds, you don’t deserve to have your identity stolen.
There’s no guarantee your refund will be late. The IRS is making efforts to get Americans their money on time despite the hard position they’ve been put in by the Trump shutdown.
But even with the problematic inconveniences, a slow refund can create within your personal economy, waiting longer to get your money after filing is preferable to becoming a victim of identity theft.