The Internal Revenue Service is recalling about 46,000 of its employees furloughed by the government shutdown, nearly 60 percent of its workforce, to handle tax returns and pay out refunds. The employees won't be paid during the shutdown.
With the official start of the tax filing season coming Jan. 28, the Trump administration has promised that taxpayers owed refunds will be paid on time, despite the disruption in government services caused by the partial shutdown now in its fourth week.
There had been growing concern that the shutdown would delay refunds worth hundreds of billions of dollars because the money wouldn't be available for them from Congress.
But Last Week, The Administration Said
Customary Shutdown Policies Will Be Reversed To
Make The Money Available To Pay Refunds On Time.
An IRS document detailing its new shutdown plan shows that 46,052 agency employees will be called back to work, of the total workforce of 80,265. It says the plan will take effect as soon as the Treasury Department issues an official notice.
Only about 10,000 employees are deemed essential and have been working. On Monday April 27th the approximate 10,000 employees to handle "mission-critical" work on-site at agency offices are required to bring their own protective masks.
According to an internal IRS email released by Democratic lawmakers on the House Ways & Means Committee over the weekend, agency employees who are coming in to answer phones, open mail, and handle other tasks will need to bring their own masks, even if they're homemade.
"Although the IRS is seeking to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, each IRS facility may not be able to initially procure the PPE for all employees immediately," the email, from IRS human capital officer Robin Bailey and deputy human capital officer Kevin McIver, reads.
"Employees are therefore required to bring personal face coverings for their nose and mouth area when they come to work," the email continues. "As stated in the CDC recommendations, these face coverings can be fashioned from common household materials, such as clean t-shirts or bandanas. Materials used to create the covering must be conducive to a professional work environment and not contain any images or text that may be deemed inappropriate or offensive to others."
After the release of the email, the service clarified that it expected to be able to provide PPE for most employees this week and that it would initially be seeking volunteers with incentive pay. A statement from the National Treasury Employees Union noted that if enough employees do not respond, the service will begin requiring employees to return to work at physical IRS offices.
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