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Editorial: Shutdown could hit Pa. in tax season |

Editorial: Shutdown could hit Pa. in tax season

| Saturday, January 5, 2019 3:30 p.m

In a press conference Friday, President Trump confirmed that he told Democrats in a negotiation earlier in the day that he would be willing to keep the lights out and the employees off the clock in federal offices for months or years to get the border wall that is the sticking point in the political standoff.

In Southwestern Pennsylvania, that might not hurt right away.

For the majority of the area, there hasn’t been much of an impact so far. The kind of offices that the federal government has in the region tend to be the kind of thing that might still function in a shutdown, things like courts and Veterans Affairs that are considered necessary. You can’t not try someone for murder, after all. You can’t not treat a veteran for cancer.

But the longer this goes, the more people will feel the pinch. And it might not take months. It might just be weeks.

According to the IRS, about 80 percent of Americans get a tax refund. In Pennsylvania, the average was about $2,590 in 2017.

But the IRS says if the government isn’t functioning, don’t count on getting that money back right away. Oh, the agency still wants your money, so if you owe, make sure you file and pay promptly, but Fortune says delays in getting those refunds could create an economic impact.

People who get money back tend to file early. There were $101.2 billion in refunds sent out by the second week of February 2018. A total of $212 billion went to 73 million filers by the end of March.

The National Retail Federation says 35 percent of people use that money to pay down debt and 49 percent stick it in savings. Others spend it, and that could hit local sellers in a big way. About a third of those buyers are spending it on big ticket items like cars or things for their home. Check out how many electronics and appliance sales happen in February and it’s easy to see the stores know when those refunds start coming.

If this game of political chicken drags on too long, the fallout will go beyond the people who aren’t getting government paychecks. Let’s hope both sides keep the whole cost in mind.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
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