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Taxes, recalls, and the shutdown's slowdowns: What you need to know ahead of the MLK weekend

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

To prepare for the tax filing season that begins Jan. 28, the IRS has called back 46,000 employees, or 57% of its workforce. But they won’t be paid until the partial government shutdown is over. The question is, how long can they work without getting paid? If the IRS workers end up following the TSA workers who have been calling out sick, tax refunds likely can’t be processed in a timely manner.

There is, however, a bit of relief for some taxpayers this week: the IRS said it would waive the penalty for those who did not withhold enough money from their paychecks in 2018. As long as you still paid up to 85% of your estimated payments toward your federal income tax liability, you won’t have to worry about the penalty on the rest. The threshold cutoff of not having to pay a penalty is typically 90%.

“We realize there were many changes that affected people last year, and this penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently didn’t have enough tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. To avoid getting an unexpected tax bill, the IRS urges everyone to check their 2019 withholding and do a “ paycheck checkup ” using the agency’s calculator.

The shutdown is also impacting road safety as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) isn’t overseeing the defects and recalls from manufacturers and consumers.  Hyundai and Kia have recently issued recalls that impacts 168,000 vehicles for risks of engine failure fires. The current recall announced in the last day, is a recall of a prior recall beginning in 2015 – where repairs were not properly addressed.

Despite delays with the shutdown, both automakers are notifying drivers by letter to bring their car into the dealership to checks their cars’ fuel pipes and replace them if needed. Hyundai owners can check hyundaiengineinfo.com and Kia owners can input their VIN number on their site .

In health news: If you still haven’t gotten a flu shot, this might help nudge you. The World Health Organization just announced its list of global health threats for 2019 and influenza is once again in the top 10. If this year’s flu season is anything like last year’s, when the flu was at its worst from January through March, we still have months to go before we’re in the clear.

In retail news: With the Super Bowl around the corner, right now is the best time of the year to buy a big-screen TV. Our resident tech expert, Dan Howley, has tips for what features you need vs. what’s a waste of money, including his thoughts on the 8K TV. 

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