The partial government shutdown means many government-funded agencies are either completely closed or running with just the bare minimum of employees. Until yesterday afternoon, there was a possibility that when you filed your tax return, there could be no one there to process it.

The partial government shutdown started on December 22, right before Christmas. Since then, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been running on only 12 percent of its staff, and most of those are working without pay. They're focusing on data security and technology maintenance so that when funding does resume, the system hasn't experienced a breakdown or been left vulnerable to attack.

As the new year began, news agencies reported that for as long as the shutdown continues, they wouldn't be issuing refunds. They also aren't conducting criminal investigations, running audits or answering any taxpayer questions.

Normally, early filers can start submitting returns toward the end of this month and receive their refund within a week or two. Last year the IRS started tax filing season January 29, but this year's start date has not yet been announced.

This Year Is Especially Important

New GOP tax law implemented last year means many Americans are expecting bigger tax returns than they received in previous years. Analysts predict married taxpayers with two children will see the biggest boost. It was one of most extensive tax overhauls since the 1980's, so for everyone there are big changes to look out for.

Recently President Trump told CBS News he's prepared for the shutdown to last months, even years. He said a meeting with top Republicans and Democrats was productive but contentious. The border wall is a top issue, a project for which Trump feels funding is a matter of national security.

Latest Update

Late Monday afternoon the White House promised tax refunds will go out as expected. There are still many unanswered questions, since the IRS is under-staffed. No one seems sure how they'll bring workers back or what funds they'll use to pay them as they process returns.