Shutdown lowdown: 6 things for business owners to know

Posted by Newsroom
Corporate News

As lawmakers and President Trump wrangle over federal funding priorities, it’s beginning to look a lot like a government shutdown that could last a few days or more.

Fence in front of the Lincoln Memorial (background) with a sign about national parks being closed due to gov't shutdown.The partial government closure began on December 22, and it could have both direct and indirect impacts on businesses of all sizes.

Essential federal employees remain on duty, but hundreds of thousands of federal workers are idled, and some other services that are non-essential may stop. The Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Transportation, State and Justice stand to be affected.

As a business owner, here are some things to keep in mind:

The Small Business Administration will be closed. The federal government shutdown will likely close the doors at the SBA in Washington, D.C., as well as many field offices nationwide. Not only are the offices closed, but SBA employees are not permitted to access agency emails and cannot represent the administration during the shutdown.

If you’ve applied for an SBA-backed loan, you’ll be stuck waiting for an answer, or for your loan to finish processing, while the shutdown is on.

Government contracts may be halted. Businesses that get awarded federal contracts from the government may not to get paid for any work done on that contract during the shutdown. Some businesses survive solely because of these contracts. Others make critical growth plans based on their ability to secure a federal contract and get paid for it.

Expect delays for tax refunds and processing. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would likely not be able to process taxes and refunds.

Need a passport or visa for business travel? Most operations would continue in the State Department, including the processing and issuance of most passports. But passport offices physically located inside another agency’s building may close temporarily. In other words, there could be delays.

Are your customers government employees? In the event of a shutdown, an estimated 400,000 federal employees, according to Bloomberg, would work without pay. About 350,000 would be furloughed. If they make up a significant portion of your customers, you may see business fall off during the shutdown.

Economic uncertainty could delay many business functions. Business owners, unsure of the economic impact of a long-term shut down in U.S. government operations, may choose to delay making changes, such as relocating to a larger office or hiring new employees. On a wider scale, this may create a downward spiral effect, in which businesses don’t put more money into the economy.

Even for businesses that don’t directly work with the federal government, the shutdown may impact them in ways they had not anticipated.

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