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As Shutdown Continues, U.S. Government Recalls Furloughed IRS Agents to Process Tax Refunds

With the United States government shutdown in its fourth week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is recalling 46,000 furloughed agents, according to the Associated Press. That’s nearly 60% of the IRS workforce. The reason is simple: Americans want their 2019 tax refund checks.

The recalled IRS agents will work without pay.

As recently as January 3, it was expected that due to the shutdown, tax refunds would not be issued, even though tax returns and payments are still due. If it seems early in the season to be clamoring for those tax refund checks, consider that in 2018, the IRS issued $12.6 billion in refunds by Feb. 2. By the end of March 2018, a total of $212 billion in tax refunds had gone out to 73 million American households.

And yes, despite the shutdown, your tax payments are still due, including the quarterly estimated taxes contractors and freelancers pay every three months. For many self-employed workers, those IRS quarterly payments are due to be postmarked today, January 15, 2019.

As the stalemate continues, the 2019 government shutdown is now the longest-ever on record. The shutdown has put a stop to everything from small business loans to IPO filings. The 2019 shutdown also continues to cause disruptions to airline travel, including security at several major airports. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the nation’s busiest, has lengthy security line wait times that are causing travelers to miss their flights.