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Local accountants: Government shutdown could delay tax returns

HARTFORD -- As the government shutdown closes in on its 26th day, the Internal Revenue Service is open under a emergency plan, operating with only 12 percent of its staff, announcing that whether the government opens or not, e-filing opens up on January 28.

But some accounting firms are starting to feel the impacts of the shutdown and seeing the effects it has on their clients, even if they are not federal employees.

“A couple of my clients have received notices from the IRS and we can’t contact them to resolve any of the issues,” said Melissa Braun, a tax manager at Whittlesey, an accounting firm in Hartford. “I know the IRS is government so there are issues sometimes, but I never thought it would be shut down and I couldn’t resolve an issue that some of my clients have.”

Braun said this is the first time in her seven years at Whittlesey that she has noticed the federal government having such a significant impact on her job.

Drew Andrews, managing partner at Whittlesey, said if the shutdown were to creep too far into tax season, refunds could be delayed. But right now, things are business as usual.

“Currently the IRS will not be auditing any returns,” said Andrews. “But, you don’t have a free pass on this, because once the shutdown is over, they can come back and audit you.”

Of course, the effects of the shutdown are felt most strongly by federal employees who are not receiving paychecks. In Connecticut, where there are 1,500 government workers, everyone is doing what they can to help.

Some people have created online fundraisers to raise money for impacted families.

Governor Ned Lamont announced a program with Webster Bank to provide interest-free loans to essential federal employees.

On Wednesday, Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng announced his plans to provide assistance to residents, offering food relief, emergency assistance and rental assistance programs.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities announced it will suspend tuition payments for students impacted by the shutdown.

And, Connecticut Water announced its plan to maintain service for furloughed workers, many of whom have turned to local food banks to put dinner on the table.

 

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