Sunday, January 06, 2019
The Shutdown Won't Last For Months - And Here's Why
On Friday, Donald Trump doubled down on his refusal to open the portion of the government that has been shut down. He said if he doesn't get $5 billion to start building his wall between the United States and Mexico, the shutdown could continue for months and even years. He was trying to look tough, but all it did was make him look stupid. He has obviously not considered the reality of how the shutdown is going to affect Americans.
Much has been reported about the 800,000 government workers who will not be paid during the shutdown. That could be tragic for those families if the shutdown lasts just a few more weeks. And since the Agriculture Department is one of the departments that is shut down, millions of poor Americans could see their SNAP benefits (food stamps) stop (that money will run out in early March).
But there is something else that will put enormous pressure on the White House. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also part of the government that is shut down -- and 90% of IRS workers have been furloughed. How will that affect Americans?
Employers will still be required to send out tax forms to their employees by the end of January, and people will still be required to pay their taxes by April 15th. Those dates are written into law, and won't change.
But the time it takes to get a refund is not written into law -- and with most employees on furlough, the IRS will not be able to process and return tax refunds to Americans. This will affect about 80% of taxpayers who are expecting a refund. According to the IRS, 110,806,000 refunds were made in 2018 ($312,973 billion).
We are talking about many millions of taxpayers/families, and they are not going to be happy about their tax refund being delayed because Trump wants a wall. If Trump thinks he's being pressured right now, just wait until the tax refunds start being delayed (refunds that many people need to keep their financial heads above water).
Does Trump (and his Republican associates) really want to be blamed for millions of voters not getting their tax refunds in a timely manner? Being blamed for that (and they would be blamed since Democrats have already passed a funding bill) is not going to help them in the next election. The easiest way to anger a voter is to mess with their finances, and that's what delaying tax refunds would do. I suspect even many of Trump's supporters will be angered by that.
Will the shutdown last for months? Not a chance. The pressure to fund government will be overwhelming as we get into tax refund season (which starts in early February).