Tea party-induced government shutdown could delay tax refunds

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, April 6, 2011 13:16 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Well, this probably isn’t what tea partiers had in mind.

The right-wing activists who chanted “shut it down!” at a Capitol Hill rally last week might be less than pleased to learn that a government shutdown may delay tax refunds — particularly for paper returns, which would be processed more slowly than electronically filed returns.

That’s but one of the consequences facing ordinary Americans as Congress crawls to a shutdown, which is likely to occur Friday at midnight as the two parties appear unable to reach a deal. Leader of both parties want to avoid a shutdown, but Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been unable to persuade his rambunctious House tea party lawmakers, who have aggressively rejected Democratic compromises.

A shutdown would result in the closure of national parks and museums for its duration, as well as delay passport and visa services, which happened during the last shutdown in 1995.

Social Security checks and Medicare payments would go out on time, although they could potentially be jeopardized if the shutdown were to continue for an extended period of time, rather than the several days it has historically taken to strike a deal in such situations.

Soldiers and other military personnel would not receive payments during the shutdown, the White House confirmed Wednesday — they wouldn’t stop earning money, they’d simply have to wait to collect their checks until after Congress appropriates the money.

Those hoping to attend the Washington, D.C. cherry blossoms festival — a major tourist attraction and cherished tradition to usher in springtime in the nation’s capital — might be out of luck. The parade “will not happen this weekend” in the event of a shutdown, a senior administration official said.

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