While a government is shutdown there are a lot of services that are not available (including the IRS). Why do we still pay taxes during the government shutdown? Shouldn't we get a refund or a part of our taxes back when this happens?

  • 4
    This question implies there's a correlation when there really isn't. Your taxes aren't based on a formula of total amount of hours federal employees worked and then pro-rated if that changes. That's just not how taxes are calculated.
    – user1530
    Jan 22, 2018 at 18:49
  • Non-essential tasks are shut down. If there were no taxes incoming, the government couldn’t even pay for essential tasks.
    – chirlu
    Jan 22, 2018 at 19:20
  • 2
    Cynical answer: because Congress both dictates the shutdowns and writes the tax code.
    – jamesqf
    Jan 23, 2018 at 4:01

1 Answer 1


Shouldn't we get a refund or a part of our taxes back when this happens?

No. When the government is funded again the things they would have paid for anyways would still be paid (i.e. salaries).

Federal employees furloughed during the shutdown in 2013 did receive back pay for the 16 days the government remained closed. Congress included a provision in its October 2013 spending bill that reopened the government and authorized that furloughed employees receive “at their regular standard rate of compensation for the period of such lapse in appropriations, as soon as practicable.”

So once it reopens those taxes will be used to pay bills as if it never shut down

  • 2
    It should be noted that back-pay isn't by default. It's up to congress as to whether or not to provide it (it'd be crazy if they didn't, of course, but it is an optional thing)
    – user1530
    Jan 22, 2018 at 19:52
  • 2
    @blip true, but there are no instances where Congress has failed to approve back-pay. The political backlash is not something either party wants to deal with
    – Machavity
    Jan 22, 2018 at 20:19
  • 2
    One of those rare 'I think we can all agree on this' issues in congress. :)
    – user1530
    Jan 22, 2018 at 20:33
  • What about the military death benefits not being paid?
    – Denis W
    Jan 22, 2018 at 20:42
  • 3
    @DenisW Same deal as back-pay. People don't like shutdowns. They really, really, REALLY get mad if some military benefits are not paid.
    – Machavity
    Jan 22, 2018 at 20:43

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