According to Law360, a U.S. Senate Finance Committee member on January 22, 2019 questioned the legality of the Internal Revenue Service plan to recall 46,000 furloughed workers next week, which the agency would execute if the partial federal government shutdown remains in effect.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the ranking member of the committee’s taxation and IRS oversight subcommittee, asked IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig what circumstances led to his decision to recall furloughed workers, which is a departure from previous policy. The IRS announced Jan. 15 that if the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, remained in effect, more than 46,000 workers will be recalled from furlough on Jan. 28 to begin the tax filing season.
“It is unclear that these activities could be described as ‘emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property’ that would allow for excepted employees to perform these duties while Congress has not appropriated funding for your agency,” Warner’s letter said.
The IRS said in its updated contingency plan that 46,052 employees, more than 57 percent of its workforce, would be classified as "excepted," a sizable increase from the 9,492 employees classified as such under a previous plan. The workers would be recalled to start the tax season and begin processing refunds.
A vast majority of IRS employees currently remain on furlough during the government shutdown, which began amid a stalemate between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for a wall along the country's Mexico border.
In a separate letter, Warner questioned U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about why some employees were recalled to process paperwork that would allow banks to provide home loans.
Democratic lawmakers have previously raised concerns over whether nonexcepted federal employees can be recalled from furlough during a shutdown without receiving pay, after Rettig announced on Jan. 7 that a significant portion of the IRS' workforce would be recalled to begin the filing season.
Is this any way to run a government?
Read more at: Tax Times blog