Still worried about your tax refund? This might ease your mind

The outlook is getting better for tax returns this year.

On Tuesday, the Treasury Department announced that more than half of employees at the Internal Revenue Service will head back to work this month, despite the ongoing partial government shutdown, The Washington Post reported.

This call-back for tens of thousands of federal employees comes under the department’s emergency plan for dealing with a government shutdown.

Workers will be restricted in some of what they can do. Audits, for instance, will be off limits.

But they will be able to help with tax filing duties, the Post reported.

“The Trump administration has not said whether the shutdown will cause it to postpone the tax filing season, which is expected to be particularly complicated this year because of the new GOP tax law,” according to the Post.

Even though many workers will head back to work, most won’t be paid until the shutdown has ended.

But federal officials say tax refunds will still be sent out to taxpayers, even while the shutdown is underway.

This news comes just two weeks after many began to worry that income tax refunds could be delayed without IRS workers in place to process them. Generally during shutdowns, just a fraction of IRS employees work.

The partial shutdown began Dec. 22 and impacts nine federal departments, including the IRS.

About 800,000 impacted federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay. Once a deal is reached, those now working without pay will be paid retroactively.

The deadline for federal tax returns isn’t until April 15. But many people start filing in mid-January, hoping to get an early refund.

Anyone calling the IRS number in Fort Worth to make an appointment hears a message noting that “live telephone assistance is not available at this time.”

The message also states that “normal operations will return as soon as possible.” And it offers direction on how to use IRS online tools.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.