With the US government shutdown entering its third week, concerns have been raised over potential delayed tax refunds to Australians filing US tax returns, as the Internal Revenue Service runs on minimal people power.
The partial shutdown of the US government is now entering its third week after US President Donald Trump said he was prepared to continue the shutdown indefinitely, in a bid to secure funding for a wall to be built on the Mexican border.
About 800,000 federal workers have been affected by the December 22 closure, with about 380,000 workers placed on unpaid leave and the remainder required to work without pay.
The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is understood to be staffed at 12 per cent to 20 per cent, leading to concerns of possible delays ahead of the US tax filing season.
Speaking to My Business’ sister title Accountants Daily, the Tax Institute’s senior tax counsel, Professor Robert Deutsch, said the shutdown’s impact on Australia would likely be minimal if it is resolved within the next two weeks.
“A resolution in the next two weeks should enable the IRS to return to normal functioning without disruption to the interests of Australians who file US tax returns,” said Professor Deutsch.
“However, a delay beyond that time frame is likely to see a considerable backlog in IRS functions including in particular the processing of tax returns and perhaps more relevantly tax refunds.
“This could start to cause some stress here in Australia but without more information, it is difficult to gauge the amount of any refunds that might be involved. Delays in processing of 2018 tax returns will also begin to bite as we move further into 2019.”
A Trump administration official announced that the IRS will process income tax refunds during the shutdown, but the agency has yet to issue a statement.
Accountants Daily reached out to the IRS and professional associations in the US for comment, but was unable to receive comments due to resource issues.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.