Government shutdown would affect tax returns and contractors - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Government shutdown would affect tax returns and contractors

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Thousands of federal workers could be furloughed if Congress does not pass a 2011 budget or 2010 budget extension by midnight Friday.

A shutdown would mean about 800,000 federal employees would not report to work.

Under a shutdown, federal employees cannot work because they cannot be paid. Without a budget, government contracts also cannot be paid, so contractors could be out of work too.

People who filed their taxes on paper could also see a delay in getting their federal tax return.

Political analyst Dr. Waymon Burke said by law, non-essential government workers cannot work in the event of a shutdown, which means IRS workers wouldn't be able to process paper returns.

Exceptions include employees whose jobs involve the safety of human life and protection of property, like the troops serving overseas.

"Most of the people who work on the [Redstone] Arsenal would not go to work Monday morning," Burke said. "The Social Security offices, Veterans offices, national parks, museums on the National Mall, all of those would close down."

A treasury spokesperson said if you e-filed your taxes and opted for direct deposit, you should not see a delay in receiving your return. If you haven't filed your taxes yet, the deadline is still April 18th no matter what happens.

One service that would not be affected is sending and receiving mail. The United States Postal Service is not funded by the government so operations would continue as normal.

"It's going to affect a lot of people in this city, if the government closes down, because we are a Federal town," Burke said. "And most people here are employed by the government or by a government contractor."

The last time a government shutdown happened was under the Clinton administration in 1995. It lasted 21 days.

Once congress does pass a budget, they will have to decide whether to pay employees for the time they were forced to have off, but that does not include government contractors, who often have to absorb the financial hit themselves.

Wednesday, Congressman Mo Brooks said he's working with others in the house to make the necessary budget cuts and keep the government running while preventing a federal bankruptcy.

"We'd be paying interest on the national debt, we'd pay entitlements, and nothing would be left for national defense, nothing left for NASA," Brooks said.

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