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IRS tax refunds, Social Security: Will a government shutdown affect my checks?

The Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration both say they have contingency plans in the event of a shutdown.

IRS tax refunds, Social Security: Will a government shutdown affect my checks?
[Photo: tankist276/iStock]

All this talk about a possible shutdown of the federal government may be making you nervous—especially if you’re, say, receiving Social Security benefits or waiting for a tax refund.

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Before you start stress-eating, here’s what you need to know to put your brain—and wallet—at ease.

Will I still get my monthly benefit check?

If you’re retired and rely on Social Security benefits, you will get it, according to the Social Security Administration’s plan, released last weekend. It says, “We will continue activities critical to our direct-service operations and those needed to ensure accurate and timely payment of benefits.”

What about my tax refund?

If you’re due money back from your 2020 taxes, the check is in the mail, as they say. The Internal Revenue Service, which is the largest of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s bureaus, has outlined in its contingency plan that “significant agency activities that will continue during a lapse [including activities] necessary for the payment of refunds.” However, remember that the IRS is already behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic and underfunding, and many taxpayers have been waiting months for their refunds.

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Will the post office still operate?

If you don’t have direct deposit and you typically receive your checks through the mail, there’s good news here: The U.S. Postal Service is still on. However, for some deliveries, you should expect delays that have nothing to do with a shutdown. Rather, the USPS is starting new, previously approved service standards for first class mail on Friday.

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