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Government shutdown rolls on. How is tax season impacted?

The federal government’s shutdown rolls on, and while the visuals focus on overflowing garbage cans in understaffed national parks, for accounting and finance pros, there are more pressing concerns.

Specifically: What about tax season?

It’s coming. And considering the IRS is one of the federal agencies heavily impacted by the shutdown, what does that mean for tax pros and taxpayers?

As with all things political, it depends on who you ask.

A recent CNBC report speculated that the shutdown will delay tax refunds and limit IRS customer service efforts.

"Right now, about 12 percent of IRS staff are expected to continue working through a shutdown, according to the agency’s plan, which means certain functions such as answering taxpayer questions would be curtailed," CNBC reporter Darla Mercado writes. "The IRS is still working on contingencies if the shutdown continues. That makes this a stressful time for accountants — and their clients."

Not so fast, says the White House. Russell Vought, acting director of the White House budget office, says tax refunds will go out on time despite the shutdown.

Still, Forbes tax reporter Kelly Phillips Erb says it's "unclear how that might happen and how that might impact other IRS operations. Despite signals that the IRS might issue an updated contingency plan last week, no update has appeared on the site."

For his part, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal wants the IRS to explain what impact the shutdown will have on tax season.

So do we. Stay tuned ...

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Bill Sheridan