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]

Make Taking Out the Trash Your Easiest Chore With This Self-Sealing Trash Can

townew
townew

“What died in here?” is a question most homeowners (and renters) have asked themselves at some point after discovering that their kitchen trash can is no match for the festering odor of raw chicken trimmings, rotting cantaloupe rinds, balsamic vinaigrette runoff, and everything else that they've discarded that week.

The folks at Knectek Labs have invented a trash can that’ll ensure you never have to ask yourself, or anyone else, that question again. The multi-talented gadget, called townew, not only seals in odors, it also seals and changes the trash bag for you. All you have to do is press a button, wait a few seconds for townew to seal the bag, then toss it in the dumpster while townew replaces the bag for you.

Townew is also smart enough to detect when the trash can is overflowing (which is always your roommate’s fault and never yours, of course) and will lift the entire top compartment in order to seal the bag without any spillage.

To open the lid, simply wave your hand over the top of townew; it’ll stay open for several seconds and close automatically. Need it to stay open for longer? Tap the button on the front of the machine and townew will keep its lid open until you tap the button again. When the bin is full and it’s time to take out the trash, hold the button for three seconds, and townew will seal the bag for you.

Townew is manufactured with acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, an engineering-grade plastic built to withstand humidity and temperature changes as well as chemical and physical impacts, so it won’t let a mid-summer heat wave stink up your kitchen and it won’t get demolished by your mischievous dog. It’s the same plastic that LEGO uses for many of its bricks—and if you’ve ever stepped on one of those, you know just how durable it is.

Just once a month, you’ll have to do two small tasks: replace townew’s recyclable refill ring, which contains 25 trash bags, and charge its 2000 mAh battery for 10 hours.

A townew trash can in an office
townew

The 15.8-inch-tall trash can comes in teal or white, and its sleek, tech-chic design will blend seamlessly with the decor of any room. Indiegogo’s early bird special includes the trash can and four refill rings for $70—shipping is free, and estimated delivery is scheduled for this September. Check out other buying options here.

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The Long Stride of Tony Little, Infomercial Titan

Mike Coppola, Getty Images for MTV
Mike Coppola, Getty Images for MTV

Tony Little didn’t see it coming. It was 1983, and the aspiring bodybuilder and future Gazelle pitchman was living in Tampa Bay, Florida, winding down his training for the Mr. America competition that was coming up in just six weeks. While driving to the gym, Little stopped at a red light and waited. Suddenly, a school bus materialized on his left, plowing into Little's vehicle and crumpling his driver’s side door.

Dazed and running on adrenaline, Little got out and sprinted over to find the bus was full of children. After seeing that none of the kids were seriously hurt, he promptly passed out. When Little later awoke, he was in the hospital, where he was handed a laundry list of the injuries he had sustained. There were two herniated discs, a cracked vertebrae, a torn rotator cuff, and a dislocated knee. He struggled to maintain his physique in the weight room and made only a perfunctory appearance at that year's Mr. America competition. Little's dreams of becoming a professional bodybuilder had been derailed courtesy of an errant school bus, whose driver had been drunk.

Though it took some time, Little eventually overcame the setback, pivoting from his original goal of being a champion bodybuilder to becoming one of the most recognizable pitchmen in the history of televised advertising. Before he did that, however, he would have to recover from another car accident.

 

For someone so devoted to physical achievement, Little was constantly being undercut by obstacles. During a high school football game, Little—who was a star player on his team in Ohio—ended up tearing the cartilage in his knee after he collided with future NFL player Rob Lytle. From that point on, Little's knee popped out of place whenever he stepped onto the field or went to gym class.

Tony Little is photographed at the premiere of Vh1's 'Celebrity Paranormal Project' in Hollywood, California in 2006
John M. Heller, Getty Images

In There’s Always a Way, his 2009 autobiography, Little wrote about how that injury—and the loss of a potential athletic scholarship—caused him to act out. A friend of his stole a Firebird and took Little for a joyride. When they were caught, Little took the blame; as he was under 18, Little figured he would get by with a slap on the wrist, while his older friend might be tried and convicted of a serious crime as an adult. According to Little, the judge gave him a pass on the condition that he relocate to Tampa Bay, where he could live with his uncle and put some distance between himself and the negative influences in his life. Little agreed.

Because of his previous injury, Little was unable to play football after making the move to Florida; instead, he devoted himself to his new high school’s weight room, where a bad knee was not nearly as limiting. After graduating, he pursued bodybuilding, earning the titles of Junior Mr. America and Mr. Florida. Little envisioned a future where he would be a fitness personality, selling his own line of supplements when he wasn't competing professionally.

The school bus changed all that. Little, who was now unable to train at the level such serious competition required, retreated to his condo, where he said he relied on painkillers to numb the physical and emotional pain of the accident. More misfortune followed: Little accidentally sat in a pool of chemicals at a friend’s manufacturing plant, suffering burns. He also had a bout with meningitis.

While Little was convalescing from this string of ailments and accidents, he saw Jane Fonda on television, trumpeting her line of workout videos. Little was intrigued: Maybe he didn’t need to have bodybuilding credentials to reach a wider audience. Maybe his enthusiastic approach to motivating people would be enough.

By now it was the mid-1980s, and a very good time to get into televised pitching. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the Cable Communications Policy Act, which deregulated paid airtime for cable networks. Herbalife was the first to sign up, airing an infomercial for their line of nutritional products. Soon, stations were broadcasting all kinds of paid programs. Exercise advice and equipment pitches were abundant, a kind of throwback to department stores that used to feature product demonstrations. It was not enough to read about a Soloflex, which used resistance bands to strengthen muscles. It was better to see it in action.

Now that he was back in shape, Little was ready to make his mark. He was told by his local cable access channel that he could buy 15 half-hours of airtime for $5500. To raise the money, Little started a cleaning service for gyms and health clubs. After airing installments of an exercise program, he was picked up by the Home Shopping Network (HSN). Little made his HSN debut in 1987. With his energetic pitch and trademark ponytail, he sold 400 workout videos in four hours.

 

Little was on the home-shopping and infomercial circuit for years before landing his breakthrough project. In 1996, the Ohio-based company Fitness Quest was preparing to launch their Gazelle, an elliptical trainer that could raise the heart rate without any impact on joints. People used their hands and feet to move in a long stride that felt effortless.

Little felt he would be the perfect spokesperson for the Gazelle and entered into an arrangement with Bob Schnabel, the company's president. The night before the infomercial was scheduled to shoot, Little was driving when he got into another serious car accident that required 200 stitches in his face. Little called Schnabel to break the news, and was told he’d have to be replaced.

Tony Little demonstrates a Gazelle during an MTV upfront presentation in New York in 2016
Mike Coppola, Getty Images for MTV

Undaunted, Little flew from Florida to Ohio to speak to Schnabel in person. By insisting that he could make the story inspirational (and that he could cover up his injuries with make-up), Little managed to convince Schnabel to proceed with the infomercial as planned. The Gazelle ended up with $1.5 billion in revenue, with Little’s other ventures—Cheeks sandals, bison meat, and a therapeutic pillow—bringing the total sales of his endorsed products to more than $3 billion. Little later reprised his Gazelle pitch for a Geico commercial, which also served as a stealth ad for the machine—which is still on the market.

While pitching wound up being relatively low-impact, it was not completely without problems. Little once said that the accumulation of appearances—more than 10,000 in all—has done some damage to his neck because of constantly having to swivel his head between the camera and the model demonstrating his product.

Those appearances have made Little synonymous with the machine. In 2013, the Smithsonian's National Zoo wondered what to name their new baby gazelle. The answer: Little Tony.

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