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Wyden to Trump: Take deal or risk delaying tax refunds


With IRS funding expiring on Friday and the president still wavering on the bipartisan spending agreement announced Monday night, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) warned Tuesday that another Trump shutdown could paralyze the IRS during tax filing season, add to the existing backlog of correspondence and potentially delay refunds.

The Trump administration said this week it is taking steps to make sure American taxpayers won’t feel the impact if the White House and Congress can’t avert a second partial government shutdown this week.

That means keeping more than 46,000 workers — about 57% of Internal Revenue Service employees — on the job without pay, to make sure tax returns are processed and refunds paid on time.

But Wyden claims it still would have an impact.

“Donald Trump may not understand how important tax refunds are to most Americans, but you can bet he’ll find out if he axes this funding agreement, causes another prolonged shutdown and keeps refunds from going out on time,” Wyden said.

“We already know Trump was willing to force hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families into financial hardship during the last shutdown. Now the question is whether he’s willing to risk hurting tens of millions of working people anticipating tax refunds in order to look tough at campaign rallies talking about his wall.”

The first batch of filing season data released by IRS late last week compared the launch of the current tax filing season with the same period in 2018. It showed decreases in the number of tax returns processed and the average dollar amount refunded. In short, the IRS is sending out smaller refunds at a slower rate this year, the senator noted.

Before the government shutdown ended in late January, it was also reported that more than half of the employees IRS recalled prior to the start of filing season did not report to work. Another shutdown could lead to more staffing shortages and pose a serious threat to agency operations, delaying refunds further.

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