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The Government Has Partially Shut Down. Here’s What it Means

(3-5 minute read)

The Government Has Partially Shut Down. Here’s What it Means

In United States politics, a government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass sufficient appropriation bills or continuing resolutions to fund federal government operations and agencies, or the President refuses to sign into law such bills or resolutions. As of midnight on Friday, December 21, many parts of the federal government have shut down. Neither side has blinked yet, so it continues.


Though critical services for “life or property” such as the postal service and air traffic control remain intact, several federal government agencies and their employees are furloughed during this period. Here’s how the absence of these services could affect you, as well as areas where you can turn to Axios HR for help.


Employee verification: E-Verify, used for employee eligibility verification, is closed during the government shutdown.  Employers must still comply with existing requirements for correctly completing the I-9 form within three days of a new employee’s first day.


W-2 filing: Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, the IRS may delay the opening of tax filing season, during which employees can file for individual tax refunds using their W-2 forms. Here’s a short summary of what could potentially happen.

  • When the government previously shut down in October 2013, the IRS pushed back the 2014 tax season by 10 days. Since the timing of this shutdown comes significantly closer to tax season, the implications may differ from last time.
  • Based on the IRS contingency plan, it appears that taxpayers will still be able to electronically file their taxes and remit any applicable payments, but may not receive refunds until the shutdown has ended and the IRS has worked through its backlog. Bottom line: until we hear otherwise, expect to file your taxes and payments on time, but depending on the length of the shutdown, don’t expect to get a timely refund.
  • Axios HR will still distribute all 2018 W-2s to employees no later than January 31.


New tax tables: The IRS has already released updated federal tax tables for 2019, so paychecks will reflect the correct updated withholding amounts with no delay on January 1, 2019. We encourage employees to review their paystubs and log in to make any needed changes to their tax withholding statuses.


Company tax filing: Automated processes will continue, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is largely unmanned during the shutdown. Timely tax reports and payments are still due, though. Axios HR will continue our regular schedule of reporting and remitting all payroll and other applicable taxes on behalf of our clients.


Benefits: Though the furloughed government employees may be home from work, their benefits should continue uninterrupted. The shutdown isn’t expected to create a federally-approved qualifying event that allows furloughed workers to join a spouse or parent’s benefit plan, but there may be exceptions. Contact Axios HR for case-by-case assistance.


Labor: The Department of Labor (DOL) has already been funded through September 2019 and remains unaffected by the government shutdown. Regardless of a shutdown, companies must always comply with labor laws, including overtime pay, worksite safety, and Title VII. Axios HR team is available to help with any guidance or issues.


Unemployment claims: Most unemployment proceedings are operated by state governments, which are still currently operational. Therefore, unemployment claims, responses, and hearings will continue as usual. Axios HR will continue to handle unemployment claims and recommend best practices to safeguard the organizations and employees we serve.


Mail: Since the US Postal Service runs on its own revenue stream, mail delivery will continue uninterrupted. There will be no change or delay in payments made by Axios HR to employees, vendors, benefit carriers, or other parties to whom Axios HR makes payments for our clients.


For additional questions, please contact Axios HR.




January 7, 2019




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