How the Government Shutdown Could Affect Your Tax Refund

iStock.com/Jirapong Manustrong
iStock.com/Jirapong Manustrong

The U.S. is coming up on week three of its government shutdown, officially making it the second-longest shutdown of the past two decades. Though many are hopeful that the standoff will end quickly so that federal employees can go back to collecting a regular paycheck, some taxpayers are already wondering how the closure is impacting the Internal Revenue Service.

Even if the shutdown continues further into the year, you're still required to file your taxes by April 15. But if you're one of those people who likes to file early so that you can also get your refund early, you may have to wait a bit: Even if you've already submitted your 2018 tax documents, you won't receive a refund until after the shutdown ends, NBC4 reports.

While some government-run services, like many national parks and museums, aren't functioning at all, the Internal Revenue Service is still partially operational. The IRS is currently working with a staff of 9946, down from its usual 80,000—a loss of 87.5 percent.

The IRS employees who are working are able to accept and process any tax returns being submitted at this time. But they won't be processing refunds as long as the government is in shutdown mode, and they aren't available to answer any questions you might have about the tax-filing process.

Taxes aren't due until mid-April, and you can still file for an extension if you need more time. By most accounts, the shutdown will likely be over long before the deadline passes. But if you're someone who likes to get your taxes out of the way early, here are some tips you won't be able to get from the IRS.

[h/t NBC4]

This Incredible Gadget Makes Changing the Toilet Paper Roll a One-Hand, One-Step Chore

Jay_Zynism/iStock via Getty Images
Jay_Zynism/iStock via Getty Images

Failing to swap out the empty roll of toilet paper for a new one would likely top the list of the most common roommate issues. While it’s far from the most time-consuming, disgusting, or aerobic chore, it still feels unnecessarily complicated and irksome.

Some clever engineers are hoping to change that with TP Sidekick, a set of two plastic mechanisms that you fasten to the arms of your toilet paper holder to make changing the roll a one-hand, one-step job. Ultra-strong double-sided adhesive foam keeps the pieces firmly in place on your holder, and all you have to do is push the new roll of toilet paper up through the bottom of your holder. That will push up the small plastic tabs, releasing the existing empty roll and locking the new one into place.

We recommend practicing a few times so you can see where the empty cardboard cylinder usually lands on the floor—then you can place a wastebasket to catch it (as long as you’re planning on recycling the contents of the basket). The TP Sidekick makes changing the roll more convenient for children, elderly people, and those with motor disabilities, and it’s also much more hygienic, considering you don’t have to touch the holder at all.

Before you decide to back the project on Kickstarter, make sure you have toilet paper dispensers that will work with the design: The TP Sidekick fits onto standard dispensers that have two extended, flat-surfaced arms that secure a spring tube in the middle. As seen in the video above, your holder doesn’t have to be totally flat—the arms can be slightly curved upward or inward, and the plastic pieces will still fit well.

One TP Sidekick costs only $11, and you can see more purchasing options from Kickstarter.

While we’re talking about toilet paper, find out if you’re wiping correctly here.

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How to Avoid Paying for Your Already-Booked Hotel Room When Your Flight Is Canceled

jacoblund/iStock via Getty Images
jacoblund/iStock via Getty Images

The news that your flight has been delayed or canceled is the last thing you want to hear on your way to the airport. Flight disruptions are more than just inconvenient—they can be expensive. If you planned your trip around arriving at your destination at an exact time, rearranging your itinerary and rescheduling bookings can end up significantly stretching your travel budget. Fortunately, canceling accommodations at the last minute doesn't always have to lead to financial loss. According to Lifehacker, there are tactics you can use to get a full refund on your hotel room.

In some cases, hotels will refund your money without any hassle. Take a look at the fine print of your reservation confirmation: Many major hotel chains give customers the leeway to change or cancel their stay up to 48 to 72 hours before they arrive.

If you're canceling due to a change in flight plans, you're likely scrambling to figure things out with little time to spare. But missing the official window to change your reservation doesn't necessarily mean you're out of luck. Call the hotel's front desk directly and explain your situation. There's a chance they'll take pity on you and refund your money or allow you to tweak your dates at no extra cost. If the reason for your rescheduled flight is a severe weather event that's also affecting your destination, it's especially likely that the hotel will be understanding—and possibly even overbooked and desperate to make room for other guests.

Of course, after trying every trick in your arsenal, the hotel may simply refuse to accommodate you and force you to pay full price for a reservation you can't make use of. When that happens, it's time to look elsewhere for compensation. Under the Montreal Convention, a treaty that covers most international travel, you can receive a payout of up to $5870 to cover financial loss caused by international flight delays in some cases. Here's how to receive the biggest reimbursement possible for the cancelled flight itself at the same time.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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