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How a Partial Government Shutdown Could Affect You

OKLAHOMA

While it may seem wrangling over the federal budget and building or not building a border wall is far away, it very well may affect you.

Granted, things like the United States Postal Service will operate, there are agencies that may have hours cut back or be shuttered entirely until the fighting is done in Washington.

For example, what if you wanted to visit a national park during the holiday season? The Interior Department is one of the areas impacted by the shutdown, and even the web site carries a warning that it may not have updated information until the impasse has ended. It suggests checking the web site for the specific park in question or going to doi.gov/shutdown for more information.

One site, Chickasaw National Recreation Area near Sulphur, notes it will not provide any visitor services and campgrounds, restrooms and the nature center will be closed. The Washita Battlefield Site and visitor center will be closed through the holidays, with no further information given. Locally, Roman Nose State Park will be unaffected because, as the name implies, it is a state-run facility. And Red Rock Canyon is now a privately-run facility, so its hours and operations are not changed by governmental shutdown.

The Blaine County Conservation District, like Roman Nose, is a state agency. Other agricultural agencies in the same building, such as the Farm Service Agency and the National Recources Conservation Service, may not be so lucky. While some other counties have noted their NRCS offices have sufficient funds to remain open, it is highly advisable for residents who need assistance from these agencies in Blaine County call that office prior to driving over to ascertain whether it is open or furloughed. The office may be reached at (580) 623-8501.

Even though tax time is not yet upon us – the IRS generally doesn’t begin accepting returns until the end of January – that agency can continue processing electronic returns, testing filing programs and maintaining computer operations. During the last shutdown in January 2018 the IRS did not perform audits, return exams, nonautomated collections and issuing refunds. If the shutdown lasts more than five days, the Treasury Department can determine whether it will continue to withhold returns.

The long and short of it is bills are still likely to make it into your mailbox, but a federal tax refund you are expecting isn’t likely to come until the shutdown has ended.

Connie Burcham can be reached at Editor@WatongaRepublican.com