Friday, April 8, 2011
Although most Callaway County residents have only infrequent contact with federal services, some might be affected if the federal government shuts down this weekend because of a lack of a budget agreement.
A last-minute agreement in Congress to continue appropriations could avert a shutdown or limit the duration of the shutdown to a short time.
Even if a federal shutdown occurs, most essential federal services will continue. Law enforcement officers would continue to work along with all agencies associated with national security. All hospital medical care and outpatient emergency care would continue. Social Security payments would continue but some Social Security service offices would be closed.
Mail deliveries will be unaffected because the U.S. Postal Service no longer is subsidized by the federal government.
Air traffic controllers at airports will continue working.
Military personnel and their dependents will be paid the full amount earned but checks will be delayed until the shutdown ends.
Some federal services would be curtailed and federal parks would be closed. Other services affected include processing late-filed income taxes and issuance of government-backed mortgages.
Angelee Bittick, office manager of Liberty Tax Service in Fulton, said she has been advising clients to come to her office and e-file to make sure their taxes are received before the deadline. Bittick said she is sure the IRS will accept taxes filed electronically if taxes are due to the IRS. But if a refund is indicated, she is unsure if the IRS will accept the forms.
Those expecting a refund should file their returns electronically and ask that the money be deposited by the IRS directly into their bank accounts.
Bittick said even without the planned federal shutdown, the IRS has been taking about 16 weeks to process an amended tax return. The IRS would not process paper tax returns during a shutdown. Without a shutdown it takes from six to eight weeks to process a paper tax return, Bittick said.
Joan Morris, broker of RE/MAX Select in Fulton, said she doesn’t see any long-term affect on real estate sales through a stoppage of government-backed mortgages.
“If a shutdown of the federal government does occur, I don’t believe it will last long enough to affect much of anything because I don’t believe the shutdown will last more than a week or so,” Morris said. “Congress will hear from the public and they will eventually agree on a budget.”
She said those affected most are individuals who are currently in the process of closing a real estate sale that includes a government-backed mortgage.
Charles Rahm, public affairs officer for the Natural Resource Conservation Service, said United States Department of Agriculture employees at the office at 4549 State Road H in Fulton would report to work as usual on Monday if the shutdown occurs. He said they would go into the building and secure their office space area and shut down computers before closing the office.
Rahm said the shutdown would affect all offices in the building. They include the Consolidated Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Soil and Water Conservation District. He said some state employees of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources who work in the office also would not be allowed to work in the office because it would be closed.
Rahm emphasized Thursday he and others in the office have received no indication of whether the shutdown will or will not occur.
“It all depends upon whether members of Congress can agree on an appropriation bill,” Rahm said.