Everyone's panicking about the government shutdown, which may happen this Friday at midnight, but what does it really mean for you and me? It isn't as scary as it sounds — the government has shut down several times in the past. The most recent one occurred from Dec. 16, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996, according to Reuters.
The length of the shutdown (if it will happen) is still not clear, but it has historically ranged from a few days to months. Shutdowns happen when the government can't come to an agreement about the budget when the federal funding is about to run out.
What it basically means is that "nonessential" governmental services will temporarily be closed. Essential services like the military, police, fire department, and air traffic control will continue.
To break things down easily for you, I've rounded up some of the groups that will be affected by this move. Check which category you belong to and learn how you will be affected:
- Taxpayers. You still need to file your taxes by April 18, but you might want to consider e-filing. The processing of paper tax returns as well as audits will be put on hold. If you don't want your tax refund to be delayed you should consider filing your taxes online and opting to receive your refund by electronic deposit.
- Federal workers. It's expected that 800,000 workers will have to stop working temporarily and won't be paid during their time off. You can't voluntarily work for free even if you wanted to and if you're seeking a temp job, you'll need to review the executive branch ethics before you take one on. Your employer will inform you if you're essential or nonessential. Read more about your situation here.
- Tourists. If you're looking forward to your upcoming trip, be aware that several national museums and national parks will shut down. For example, the National Zoo and the major Smithsonian museums in Washington DC will have to close and turn away tourists. If you were looking forward to visiting those institutions, you might want to put your trip on hold.
To see how else you will be affected, read on.
- Military. Those who work in the military will continue working and will be earning salaries, but their paychecks will be delayed after April 8, and they will only be able to receive it when the shutdown ends.
- Small business owners. There won't be any new loans approved for small business owners and direct loans will be suspended by the Small Business Administration. If you're waiting for a small business loan from the SBA, you'll have to wait a little longer until the shutdown is over.
- Homeowners. There won't be any new loan guarantees by the Federal Housing Administration during the shutdown period. This means that if you're waiting to get a mortgage loan from the FHA, you'll have to wait until the shutdown is over, because there won't be anyone there to process it.
- Clinical trial patients. There won't be any new clinical trials by the National Institute of Health and new patients will not be taken on during this time frame. However, current trials will continue.