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Government shutdown means locked doors at Long Island IRS offices

Those venturing out Wednesday to pay tax bills or get paperwork found the Hauppauge office closed due to the impasse. The Bethpage IRS office is also shuttered.

The IRS office in Hauppauge is closed due

The IRS office in Hauppauge is closed due to the partial federal government shutdown. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Armando Bustillo anxiously pulled on the front door of the Internal Revenue Service's Taxpayer Assistance Center in Hauppauge, 15 minutes early for his appointment to obtain documents settling his tax debt.

But the Central Islip resident, along with nearly a dozen others who showed up Wednesday morning for scheduled appointments or to make payments at the IRS office on Veterans Memorial Highway, one of only two on Long Island, found the doors locked — a tedious side effect of the partial federal government shutdown.

"I'm worried," Bustillo said. "My lawyer needs these papers to show that my record is clear with the IRS."

The Bethpage IRS office is also closed.

Wednesday was the first regular business day since federal departments shut down at midnight Friday as part of an impasse between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over funding to build a wall on the southern border. Most government offices were closed Monday and Tuesday for the Christmas holiday.

Trump has threatened to keep the government shuttered until he receives billions for his border wall. Senate Democrats have vowed not approve any funding for the wall, which Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail would be paid for by Mexico.

Congress has passed appropriations bills to fund approximately three quarters of the federal government, including the Defense Department. But lawmakers failed to pass funding bills for nine cabinet-level departments — Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury — as well as the IRS and many smaller agencies.

Roughly 420,000 federal workers deemed "essential" will remain on the job during the shutdown without pay while another 380,000 employees will be furloughed without pay.

Zaahira Sultzer of Deer Park showed up at the Hauppauge IRS office shortly before noon Wednesday to make a regularly scheduled tax reimbursement payment only to find the building closed.

"Nobody told me anything," Sultzer said. "I'm worried because these payments can't be late."

An IRS employee exiting the center shouted to those waiting outside that the office was closed and "don't bother coming back" until the shutdown had concluded.

Messages left with the IRS press office in Washington, D.C., were not returned.

The scene was quieter at the Small Business Administration's Hauppauge office Wednesday. The office was empty and locked with a sign on the entrance reading: "Due to the lapse in funding, SBA will remain inactive until further notice. We apologize for any inconveniences and we look forward to assisting you when we return."

Meanwhile, it was largely business as usual at the National Weather Service's office in Upton.

The weather service will continue providing forecasts and storm information to airports, municipalities and the news media during the shutdown although social media posts will likely be scaled back, said meteorologist Melissa Di Spigna. Most of the NWS' 30-person Long Island staff, who are considered essential, will continue to work without pay while a handful of back office payroll employees have been furloughed, she said.

"There is some uncertainty for us all," Di Spigna said. "But the National Weather Service's forecasting and lifesaving warnings are operational and will continue uninterrupted."

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