IRS sets five specific furlough dates

(Susan Walsh/AP)
(Susan Walsh/AP)

The Internal Revenue Service has informed employees of specific dates it plans to place them on unpaid leave as a result of the government-wide spending cuts known as the sequester.

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller said in a memo to agency employees that furloughs would take place on May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22 and August 30, with all “public-facing operations” closing on those dates, including toll-free operations and taxpayer-assistance centers.

Two more furlough days may be necessary in August or September, Miller said.

Alternative furlough dates will apply to “mission-essential” IT and security personnel, but no IRS employees — including the commissioner and other executives — would escape the furloughs, according to the memo.

The agency plans to issue official furlough notices on Monday, according to the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS workers.

“Despite successful efforts over the past year to find cost savings and our recent efforts to minimize the effects of sequestration, we still had to make tough decisions on the furlough dates and the best way to implement them,” Miller said.

In a statement on Friday, the NTEU expressed disappointment with the sequester furloughs and said IRS closures would have an impact on the public. “On these days, phones calls to the IRS will go unanswered and Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country will have ‘closed’ signs in their windows,” said union president Colleen M. Kelley. “I believe this is an unprecedented event that leaves taxpayers out in the cold.”

The IRS paired some of its furlough days with federal holidays, creating four-day weekends for affected workers around Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

The IRS joins the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in planning furloughs around federal holidays.

Miller said the IRS scheduled its furlough dates to prevent more than one day of unpaid leave for each pay period, as well as to ensure that some pay periods during the summer would have no furloughs.

The agency decided on uniform furlough dates in order to close down on those days and save additional money on utilities and other services, according to the memo.

Miller said the IRS will continue talks with the NTEU to work through additional details of the furlough plan.

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics.

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks | April 19, 2013