Millions of US taxpayers will still receive refunds despite an ongoing partial government shutdown, the White House has said. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has previously delayed tax refunds during a government shutdown.
The decision comes as President Donald Trump weighs declaring an emergency over his demand for border wall funding, the cause of the shutdown. The stalemate over the proposed Mexico border wall is now in its third week.
White House Office of Management and Budget acting director Russell Vought told reporters on Monday that the administration had directed the IRS to fulfill tax returns as officials face mounting pressure to end the federal funding lapse.
We have tried to make this as painless as possible, consistent with the law, he said.
US residents are required to file tax papers by 15 April and can later receive refunds from the government based on income. Last year, the IRS issued billions of dollars in refunds - an average of more than US$ 2,000 per filing.
The shutdown, which began on 22 December, has affected 25% of the government and seen some 800,000 federal employees furloughed - temporarily laid off - or forced to work without pay.
It is unclear how the IRS will process returns as about 90% of the agency's employees remain furloughed. Any IRS employees brought back to process these tax refunds will not be paid until the shutdown ends.
While the shutdown's repercussions ripple across the country, Vice-President Mike Pence has told reporters the president has not yet decided whether to declare a national emergency in order to bypass congressional approval for the US-Mexico border wall.
Mr Trump is set to address the nation on Tuesday on what he describes as a national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border. Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern.
Mr Trump had directed Mr Pence and Democrats to meet over the weekend for negotiations. The president's position is: there is a crisis at the southern border, and Democrats are refusing to negotiate, the vice-president said on Monday.
Mr Pence also said the tax return decision was a part of Mr Trump's directive to mitigate the impact of the shutdown on everyday Americans.
As the shutdown begins its third week, it means: About 25% of the US federal government has no funding; Nine departments have been affected, including Homeland Security, Justice, Housing, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and the Treasury; Native American tribes which receive substantial federal funding are struggling; National Parks have become hazardous without staff.