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White House Instructs IRS to Pay Income Tax Refunds, Despite Shutdown

IRS to disburse tax refunds during shutdown if needed

Good news for all you early-filers out there. The White House will order the Internal Revenue Service to pay out income tax refunds, despite a partial government shutdown, sources tell ABC News.

With the majority of the people who work at the IRS considered 'non-essential' personnel, close to 90 percent of the agency's workforce has been sent home without pay, according to a contingency plan published by the department in December. 

The acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, told reporters on Monday that the Trump administration is working to make the shutdown as "painless as possible" for Americans, adding that tax "refunds will go out." 

The IRS is one of several agencies that have been closed by the shutdown which began on Dec. 22. Deadlines for filing and paying taxes will remain the same, the agency says. 

Taxpayers seeking answers for their tax questions this month are met with this automated message when they call the agency for advice:

"Welcome to the IRS. Live telephone assistance is not available at this time. Normal operations will resume as soon as possible."

While refunds will be going out on time (or slightly delayed) after all, IRS offices will remain closed until the government is funded. The IRS said it expects to soon update its contingency plan should the shutdown last any longer. It's possible some employees may be brought back to work, without pay, to keep up with the functions of the agency. 

The IRS said tax revenue will still be collected by the government, despite the shutdown. 

"Relevant authority has established that tax revenues constitute Government property which the Service must safeguard during a lapse in appropriations," according to the IRS.

Photo: Getty Images

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