Government Shutdown: Impact on Small Business

The government shutdown that began on October 1 has a finite life. While the government is shut down, the lack of certain governmental functions affect small business and their owners. Obviously, the impact of the shutdown depends on how long it lasts. Here is a brief list of what to consider:

Taxes. If you are on a filing extension for your personal tax return, the October 15 filing deadline probably won’t be extended. However, any tax refund you’re owed could be delayed.

You can continue to use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to deposit payroll taxes and pay your income taxes; EFTPS does not appear to be affected by the shutdown.

If you’re in the midst of an audit, it has come to a halt until further notice.

SBA loans. Applications for loans to small businesses guaranteed by the Small Business Administration are on hold for the time being. It may be necessary for some businesses to seek alternative financing until their SBA loan application can be processed.

Government contracts. If you are a contractor or subcontractor, you may need to stop work on the job for now (it depends on the job). Payments owed to contractors will be delayed until the government is once again funded.

Patents and trademarks. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will continue to operate by using fees paid by applicants. This can carry the office for several weeks.

e-Verify. If you normally use this system to check the legal status of a worker, you’re out of luck at this time; e-Verify won’t be in operation until the shutdown is over.

In addition to any direct impact your business may experience as a result of the government shutdown, there may be ancillary effects to consider. For example, if your business services government personnel (e.g., the food truck near a government building), expect your business to fall off considerably for the time being.

Whatever impact you may experience, it is only temporary. If history is any guide, the shutdown likely will be over soon. Of the 17 shutdowns since 1977, the longest one was 21 days (from December 16, 1995, through January 5, 1996). Things will return to normal, although there may be some delays ahead.


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