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Government Shutdown: 10 Things to Know

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By Betty Wang, JD on October 01, 2013 11:43 AM

What should you know about the government shutdown?

In a standoff between President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress over differences over Obamacare, most of the federal government is now closed for business, Reuters reports.

Until lawmakers reach a deal, what does the government shutdown mean for you? Here are 10 things every American should know:

  1. What's closed? All national parks are now closed, as are other recreation and visitor sites, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Smithsonian museums, and Alcatraz in San Francisco. For a full list of agencies affected by the shutdown, check out CNN's list.
  2. What's not affected? Some federal government services will continue to operate. For example, mail delivery will continue. Federal law enforcement will also continue to operate, as well as those on active duty in the military.
  3. What's partially affected? There are also other services that are partially affected by the shutdown. For example, new patients will not be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients will still continue to be cared for. Also, the Food and Drug Administration will continue handling only high-risk recalls, The Associated Press reports.
  4. How many federal government workers are affected? This shutdown has furloughed up to almost 800,000 federal workers, who are now on unpaid leave, The AP reports.
  5. Effect on the IRS. While you'll still be paying taxes for everything, according to The AP, the IRS will suspend all audits, and walk-in centers will be closed -- meaning your paper tax returns won't be processed. However, electronic returns and payments can still be processed.
  6. Small business loans. Those who have taken out a small business loan may be affected as well. The U.S. Small Business Administration is currently unable to process any new loan requests, The Washington Post reports.
  7. Federal benefit payments. Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits should still continue, but there may be delays in processing any new applications.
  8. Obamacare's insurance exchanges are not affected. The Affordable Care Act is still in effect. In fact, the program's open enrollment period officially begins today.
  9. When did the shutdown begin? The shutdown has already officially begun, as of midnight on Monday night (September 30), when the fiscal year ended.
  10. How long do shutdowns usually last? According to USA Today, most shutdowns last no more than three days, while some may only last a day. The last government shutdown, however, lasted 21 days from December 1995 through January 1996.

The shutdown will end immediately once Congress passes a spending bill and President Obama signs it into law. However, in the meantime, it's best to prepare yourself for the changes that are happening currently.

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