Govt shutdown curtails services for small business

NEW YORK (AP) — The shutdown of the federal government has sharply curtailed services and operations that affect small businesses. However, some essential and emergency services are still operating.

A look at what is, and isn't, available:

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

The agency and its offices are closed except for disaster assistance operations. So a company owner looking for information about a small business loan or need other assistance is out of luck. No small business loans will be processed during the shutdown.

The agency's website, www.sba.gov , is operating but information is not being updated.

A spot check of SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Centers, many of which are located at colleges, universities and chambers of commerce around the country, found that they were open.

FEDERAL CONTRACTS

Small businesses hoping to hear about bids they've submitted will have to keep waiting. Employees of federal agencies who approve and process contracts are likely furloughed. And payments on current contracts likely are not being processed.

HEALTH CARE

The government's website with information about the Affordable Care Act, www.healthcare.gov , is up and running with links to state health insurance exchanges.

IRS

Small businesses must still file returns and pay their taxes although IRS employees are not working. That means owners who filed for six-month extensions of the April 15 filing deadline must file their returns by Oct. 15. They also must pay all taxes due including payroll taxes. The agency's website, www.irs.gov , is operating, as are automated information telephone lines. However, business owners and other taxpayers won't be able to speak with IRS representatives if they have questions. Refunds are not being processed while the government is shut down.

EXPORT HELP

The government website aimed at helping companies that want to export goods, www.export.gov , is operating. But a message on its home page warns that transactions submitted through the website won't be processed, and that agency employees may not be able to respond to inquiries. U.S. Export Assistance Center offices around the country are closed.

The Export-Import Bank, which helps foreign transactions for small businesses, is processing and depositing funds that it receives. It's also paying claims under its guarantee and insurance programs. But its offices are closed and its website, www.exim.gov , is unavailable.

LABOR DEPARTMENT

The department and its offices are closed, but its website, www.dol.gov , is operating. Information on the site may not be up to date.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration's toll-free number for emergencies is operating: 1-800-321-6742.

FEDERAL COURTS

Courts remain open and most trials are continuing. However, some civil cases involving the government and those being handled by a U.S. Attorney's Office are being suspended during the shutdown.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

The agency and its offices are closed and its website, www.epa.gov , is operating but is not being updated. For environmental emergencies like oil spills, the National Response Center is operating. Its toll-free number is 1-800-424-8802.

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