Missing a Tax Refund? Blame the Government Shutdown

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The IRS won't issue refunds during the federal government shutdown, but the filing extension deadline still applies.

The IRS can’t send anyone a tax refund right now, but taxpayers who filed for an extension still have to cough up the cash they owe by next week.

The IRS posted a reminder on Tuesday about the upcoming deadline:

The current lapse in federal appropriations does not affect the federal tax law, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as required by law.

Though Oct. 15 is the last day for most people to file, some groups still have more time, including members of the military and others serving in Afghanistan or other combat zone localities who typically have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due. People with extensions in parts of Colorado affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides also have more time, until Dec. 2, 2013, to file and pay.

The IRS website is still fully functional during the government shutdown, so taxpayers can look there for help. However, you probably won’t have any luck with a phone call.

“Live telephone customer service agents are among the tens of thousands of IRS workers that have been furloughed,” CNNMoney says. “The IRS’s walk-in taxpayer assistance centers are also closed, as well as the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which fields consumers complaints and offers free tax help.”

Can’t afford to pay your full tax bill right now? The IRS says to file anyway to avoid a late filing penalty of 5 percent per month, although other interest and late-payment penalties will still apply.

If you’ve already filed and are still awaiting a refund, you’re out of luck. The IRS says it won’t issue any refunds until the federal government reopens. It says to ignore any automatic messages generated by its Where’s My Refund? tool and to check it again two days after the government opens for business again.

Stacy Johnson

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