Everyone's panicking about the government shutdown, which happened today, 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.
The length of the shutdown 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 under your category to learn how you will be affected:
- Taxpayers: You still need to file your taxes by the extension deadline of Oct. 15, but you might want to consider efiling. 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, then 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, then 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.
- Travelers: If you're looking forward to your upcoming trip, then be aware that many 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, then you might want to put your trip on hold. On a bright note, travelers might be relieved to know that they will still be able to get their passports renewed.
To see how else you might be affected, read on.
- Military: Active-service military employees and civilian employees of the Defense Department and Pentagon contractors will continue to get paid because of a bill passed that ensures active-duty military pay even during a shutdown.
- 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, then 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, then 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.
- Uninsured: For those who are keen on taking advantage of Obamacare's health insurance marketplace, the launch hasn't been affected by the shutdown.