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24 Apr, 2013 20:23

IRS to close for five days

IRS to close for five days

Due to the sequester, the IRS is furloughing all of its employees for five days, sending them home for unpaid leave while the agency’s offices shut down.

The IRS employs about 90,000 people, all of which will be forced to stay home on May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22 and August 30 while the agency tries to stay within its budget. The agency spread out the days it will shut down in order to minimize the effects the furloughs will have on the finances of its employees.

“We wanted to make sure there is only one furlough day a pay period, and we have also worked to stagger the dates further so that there are some pay periods during the summer with no furlough days,” IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller wrote in an e-mail he sent to staff.

All IRS workers will be covered by the furlough at the same time, with the exception of building security and systems personnel, who will take furloughs on alternative dates within the pay periods. Media Relations offices, Taxpayer Assistance Centers and toll-free operations will all be closed on the days of furlough.

The IRS is the latest government department to announce sequester-related furloughs of its employees this year and follows those implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration this week. Due to the sequester, the staffing of air traffic controllers was reduced by 10 percent across the country, causing airport delays that the FAA expects to be as long as 3.5 hours.

Earlier this month, attorneys working on the trial of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law said that due to five-week-long sequester furloughs forced upon them, the trial must be delayed significantly.

“There is no solution,” David E. Patton, head of New York’s federal public defender’s office, told the New York Times.

Across the nation, government funded departments and agencies are being forced to send their employees on unpaid leave between April and September to stay within their reduced budgets. When the IRS closes its operations, phone calls will go unanswered and Americans seeking help with their taxes will not receive any assistance.

“I believe this is an unprecedented event that leaves taxpayers out in the cold,” Colleen M. Kelley, head of the National Treasury Employees Union, told FOX. Some believe that the furloughs will result in fewer audits this year, which could leave the IRS with less money in the end.

But Miller believes there is no other way to compensate for the slash in the IRS budget. On April 9, he told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government that “the American people will see erosion in our ability to serve them, and the federal government will see fewer receipts from our enforcement activities.”

Next week, IRS employees will wake up to a notice officially informing them when they will be staying home.

“Everyone is covered by this furlough, and that means everyone from the Acting Commissioner and executives to managers and employees,” reads Miller’s internal memo.