The government shutdown is now the longest in American history, officially hitting that mark over the weekend. Though only a partial shutdown, it is having an outsize impact on banks, credit unions and mortgage lenders across the country. Some of these have been mitigated due to actions by the Trump administration, while others continue largely unaddressed.
With President Trump refusing to end the shutdown until Democrats agree to fund a wall on the southern border, it is unclear when the shutdown will end. Some predict Trump may eventually give up and instead seek to invoke emergency powers to build the wall, a strategy that carries significant legal risk. Others argue the president will keep the shutdown in place in the hopes pressure builds on Democrats to make a deal.
Following is a look at where financial services are most affected.
IRS income verification
The government shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, has already caused a backlog of mortgage applications and was threatening to do even worse.
Some lenders had become wary of closing loans without IRS documentation known as Form 4506-T, which provides official income verification and tax return transcripts. The form was unavailable with the government closed. But after mortgage officials began lobbying the Treasury Department on the issue, the Trump administration opted to declare personnel who deal with the form as “essential,” thus allowing them to return to work, according to a story that The Washington Post broke late last week.
Though the Post story couched it as the administration doing a favor for a powerful lobby, it may be as much about self-preservation as helping the industry itself. Without access to the form, the mortgage market was in danger of grinding to a standstill, a prospect that would worsen the economic damage from the shutdown. With most polls showing that Americans blame Trump, not Democrats, for the shutdown, the administration was highly motivated to find a way around the issue.