IRS will not furlough until after tax filing season

February 28, 2013

Taxpayers should not expect a break on tax deadlines because of sequestration. The Internal Revenue Service will wait until after tax filing season before furloughing its workers, the agency’s acting commissioner told employees Thursday.

(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)
(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

If sequestration occurs, IRS employees should expect to be furloughed for five to seven days, or no more than one per pay period, before the end of the fiscal year, Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller told employees in a memorandum.

“Despite our current and planned efforts to cut expenses, the reality is that our greatest expense, by far, is employee pay,” Miller wrote.

The National Treasury Employee Union, which represents IRS employees, had raised concerns that sequestration might interfere with filing season, with taxes due to be filed by April 15.

But Miller said IRS employees will “continue to deliver for the nation’s taxpayers” in his memo.

“Let me be clear: We know that asking you to take even one furlough day is difficult,” he wrote. “That’s why we’ve spent so much time and energy trying to minimize the impact on our employees as much as possible while carrying out our mission.”

IRS employees would be given 30 days notice before any furloughs begin.

“We have had informal discussions with the agency about this matter and we will engage in bargaining when the formal notice of furlough is provided,” NTEU president Colleen M. Kelley said in a statement, adding that the agency is operating with 5,000 fewer workers than two years ago owing to budget cuts.

“None of these developments is good for the agency, for employees or for taxpayers,” Kelley said. “IRS employees are middle class workers who have had their pay frozen for over two years. Those furloughs will hurt their ability to pay their bills and serve the public.”

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