Top Impacts of the US Government Shutdown — The partial government shutdown is taking its toll on federal employees who have been temporarily laid off or forced to work without pay as well as for Canadians engaged in trade with their southern neighbor.
More than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed – or temporarily laid off or work without pay – since the shutdown began. The prolonged dispute is primarily focused on the president’s demand for billions of dollars to fund his controversial election promise of building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
A shutdown complicates work for agencies like the IRS ahead of tax season, as well as Customs and the Border Patrol amid trade and immigration issues. The following are the impacts of the US Government Shutdown:
The partial shutdown has impacted a number of U.S. government departments including Homeland Security, Justice, Housing, Agriculture, Commerce, and the Treasury. The U.S. National Park Service has suspended all activities – except for those that are essential to responding to emergencies – for the duration of the shutdown. That means that services such as open public washrooms, garbage collection, road maintenance, and information centers have ceased.
Limited IRS availability
The IRS will not be available to answer taxpayer questions about their tax liabilities. That includes small businesses. Moreover, the IRS will not issue refunds, process 1040X amended returns or conduct audits. Operations that will continue during a shutdown include criminal law enforcement actions, processing electronic returns up to the point of refund and processing paper returns by “batching.” However, don’t expect any clarification on your tax questions or to receive your refund until the government shutdown ends.
Of the 800,000 federal employees furloughed or working without pay, thousands are researchers. These include agency scientists at the Agriculture Department, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey
Scientists, too, have felt the effects of the partial shutdown. In numerous tweets, researchers employed by the federal government have complained about how they have been barred from labs and grant funding for their projects could be jeopardized if timelines are delayed.
Many attorneys and judges at the Department of Justice are not working and cases are waiting. Justice Department employees involved in criminal investigations and prosecution are among those working without a paycheck.
The shutdown delays almost all federal civil cases, including discrimination cases, whistleblower cases, disciplinary cases, and retaliation actions were taken against federal employees. It further backlogs thousands of immigration court cases.
Economy and Small Business
JPMorgan estimates the U.S. economy is losing more than $1.5 billion a week because of the shutdown, a fraction of the $20 trillion economy. Fitch Ratings warned that an extended shutdown might damage the country’s Triple-A credit rating and the Small Business Administration stopped processing new loans
Any small business owner hoping to get approved for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will have to wait. Processing for most SBA lending programs will be on hold when the agency’s employees are on furlough.
Tourism and other Businesses
It’s a slower month for tourism, but the partial shutdown has deepened the lull, with Smithsonian institutions closed. Business owners, taxi drivers and others who rely on foot traffic have watched revenue slump as parts of the government ground to a halt. Non-Smithsonian museums are reporting an increase in visitors.
Employers looking to hire new employees during the shutdown could run into problems. One of the casualties of the shutdown is access to the federal E-verify, an internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. The issue is having serious implications in states that are required to verify employees’ legal status via the program before they are hired.