By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Filing your taxes was already going to be more complicated this year.

But the partial federal government shutdown is making things worse — especially in Minnesota.

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That’s because the legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton failed to agree last year on a bill to align state tax laws with the new federal tax law. Now, because of the shutdown, there is less help for you to sort things out.

If you’re worried about your taxes, and you try calling the IRS for help, you’ll get an automated response that says, “Welcome to the Internal Revenue Service. Live telephone assistance is not available at this time. Live assistance will resume as soon as possible.”

The IRS help lines are closed. Even before the partial shutdown, a complex filing season was already looming for Minnesota residents. New federal laws mean most filers won’t need to itemize to get the most money back, but itemizing could still save you hundreds or more on your state taxes.

“They are still going to be complex because you are still going to have to calculate the return in two different ways,” Kyle Spicer, tax manager at Smith Schafer & Associates said.

Adding to the complications for your tax filing and your personal budget is the uncertainty. Let’s say, year after year, you’ve gotten a refund. Most analysts say this year that refund could be bigger — but maybe not.

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Spicer says if you did not withhold enough you could end up owing more.

“Because you got a refund in the past, that may not happen this year,” Spicer said.

And for those who are expecting a refund, you may have to wait.

“The refunds could be delayed this year due to the shutdown. It’s hard to say yet at this point, but if the shutdown continues, that staff is not available to process those refunds,” Spicer said.

The White House issued a statement today saying that even if the shutdown continues indefinitely, tax refunds will be sent out.

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The IRS has announced it will begin processing tax returns on Jan. 28 and issue refunds as planned.

Esme Murphy