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NTEU at Work

The Month in Media

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NTEU Makes Headlines


Coverage of NTEU's position and work on behalf of federal employees was included in nearly 35 media stories in April.


The Sources

Here are just some of the media that mention NTEU:

Washington Post

New York Times

Wall Street Journal

Boston Globe

Washington Times

Associated Press

Bloomberg News

Reuters

Federal News Radio

Federal Daily News

FedSmith

GovExec

Washington Post

Federal Times

USA Today

New York Times

New York Chief-Leader

The Hill

Federal Computer Week

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tax Analysts

Tax Notes

National Journal

BNA/Government Employee Relations Report

Credit Union Times

Roll Call

Wall Street Journal

The Fiscal Times

CNNMoney

Associated Press

MSNBC.com

CNN

C-SPAN

CyberFEDS

Politico

Accounting Today

Marketplace

Reuters

NPR

Accounting Web

Bloomberg

Forbes

Washington Times

Huffington Post

Fiscal Times

UPI

Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek

"Budget cuts for five years--and a resulting hiring freeze--are taking a toll. Taxpayers are suffering and the economy is hurting as a result of these ill-advised cuts. That is the resounding lesson of the 2015 tax-filing season."

NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley
Accounting Today | April 6, 2015

NTEU made a major media push to highlight how cutting the IRS' budget year after year hurts taxpayers around the country. President Colleen M. Kelley and many chapter leaders engaged with the media to generate widespread print and broadcast coverage. By securing such prominent coverage, NTEU spread its core message: millions of Americans are unable to get the expert help they need from IRS employees.

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April Headlines

Tax Filing Season  
   
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• At the peak of the tax filing season, NTEU led an aggressive campaign in national and local media outlets highlighting the harmful impact of IRS budget cuts on taxpayer services.

• Twenty years after the Oklahoma City bombing, NTEU vows to never forget the victims. Read the clips »

• As the fiscal 2016 congressional budget process continues, NTEU continues to urge Congress to stop singling out federal workers for cuts. Read the clips »

 NTEU reaffirms its support efforts to reduce the case backlog at the Social Security Administration. Read the clips »


IRS Budget Cuts (National Coverage)



IRS chief paints bleak picture of strapped agency (Washington Post)
Since October 2011, 46 percent of the agency's leaders have left, Koskinen said. Among the "top tier of leaders on our senior team," nearly two-thirds have departed since 2011. "The changes are so significant throughout the agency that you could hang a sign on our headquarters saying 'Under New Management.'"

Keep in mind that tax issues are notoriously complex. It takes years for a tax auditor to be fully productive.

"The hiring freeze the IRS implemented to cope with reckless budget cuts imposed by Congress for five years in a row is...making it virtually impossible for the IRS to hire new workers to replace experienced and retiring employees," said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley. "The hiring freeze is discouraging to applicants with the skills and education the agency needs."

April 1, 2015

Declining IRS workforce leaves calls unanswered as Tax Day approaches, union says (Washington Post)
Taxpayers across the country are lining up for hours outside walk-in centers and getting just four in 10 calls for information answered by the Internal Revenue Service as April 15 approaches, the union representing IRS employees said Monday.

The National Treasury Employees Union released data showing state-by-state declines in the agency's workforce after five years of budget cuts by Congress.

"These figures should shock the conscience of Congress," NTEU President Colleen Kelley said at a news conference to draw attention to the budget cuts' effect on customer service this tax season.

April 6, 2015

Declining IRS Workforce Leaving Calls Unanswered (Accounting Today)
The National Treasury Employees Union released data Monday showing state-by-state declines in IRS personnel this year as a result of budget cuts at the hands of Congress.

"Congress created this problem and Congress can fix it by giving the IRS the resources it needs to accomplish its mission," NTEU national president Colleen M. Kelley said in a statement.

"Budget cuts for five years--and a resulting hiring freeze--are taking a toll. Taxpayers are suffering and the economy is hurting as a result of these ill-advised cuts. That is the resounding lesson of the 2015 tax-filing season."

April 6, 2015

Union leader 'surprised' IRS can't get funding (
The Hill)
The head of a union representing IRS employees said Monday that she was surprised that the agency's supporters hadn't been able to stop a string of budget cuts coming from Capitol Hill.

"Congress did not listen," said Kelley, noting the "rhetoric of some coming out of Congress" about the Tea Party controversy.

"But I think that everyone who should have been at the IRS was yelling loud enough and providing facts," added Kelley, who will retire later this year after 16 years as NTEU president. "I'm surprised we haven't turned the corner."

April 6, 2015

Union: IRS Budget Cuts Hurt Workforce, Customer Service (
GovExec)
Five consecutive years of budget cuts have left the Internal Revenue Service with 18,000 fewer employees, many of whom feel besieged this filing season by angry taxpayers waiting in long queues for help that is often inadequate, the National Treasury Employees Union said on Monday.

IRS employees at taxpayer assistance centers tell union officials they "get yelled at, have papers thrown at [them], and are spoken down to [because] the demand is too high for the resources available," National President Colleen Kelley told reporters in a conference call.

According to Kelley, a front line worker in Pittsburgh said fewer than 40 percent of calls are answered. "That's a horrible percentage, and it certainly does not instill confidence in the federal government," the employee told union officials.

April 6, 2015

NTEU urges Congress to boost IRS funding (Washington, D.C. News Channel 8)

April 6, 2015

NTEU to Congress: You can't starve the IRS (
Federal News Radio)
NTEU president Colleen Kelley said Monday many lawmakers have not heeded the warnings from the IRS, her union and citizen advocates who say five years of budget cuts and four years of staffing reductions will have a dramatic impact on the agency and the country as a whole.

"I continue to be surprised that they haven't turned the corner on the funding, with the recognition that the IRS brings in 93 percent of the revenue that funds the entire federal government," Kelley said Monday during a press briefing. "You cannot starve that agency, watch them bring in less revenue and then wonder why there is not enough money to fund fill-in-the-blank, whether it's Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs or Social Security.

Whatever it is, there is a direct connection. There is nothing tangential about it. For those voting against direct funding, some of it is philosophical. They just oppose whether in a large part it's the IRS but also government. But I also think they have earplugs in and they are not taking their responsibility serious in dealing with the facts."

April 7, 2015

Stopping Budget Cuts Is Critical for IRS Operations, Kelley Says (Tax Notes)
While it is unlikely Congress will increase the IRS's budget for fiscal 2016, lawmakers can at least refrain from making further cuts, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Colleen M. Kelley said April 6.

"I don't think anyone expects to recover the funding in one year that has been lost or cut from the agency in the last five" years, Kelley said during a conference call with reporters. "But to turn the corner and start moving in that direction is what's really important."

Kelley also said the IRS needs to focus on hiring more employees, considering that a large portion of the agency's workforce will soon be eligible to retire.

April 7, 2015

NTEU: IRS overwhelmed this tax season due to budget cuts (Fierce Government)
Taxpayers are once again encountering long wait times for help with their taxes as the filing deadline approaches, because budget cuts have left the Internal Revenue Service understaffed, says an April 6 National Treasury Employees Union statement.

"Overworked and overwhelmed, a smaller IRS workforce is unable to provide adequate service to the millions of taxpayers calling or visiting a Taxpayer Assistance Center," says NTEU President Colleen Kelley.

And that problem can no longer be ignored, Kelley says in the statement.

April 7, 2015

Tax Season 2015: IRS Cutbacks Cripple Taxpayer Services For Poor, Elderly (
International Business Times)
The Phisients and millions like them are struggling with an IRS taxpayer assistance program nearing its breaking point. At the roughly 400 IRS tax help centers across the country, which chiefly serve lower-income and elderly filers, endless lines and dwindling tempers characterize what IRS employees are calling the toughest tax season in memory.

"I've been here 16 years and it's never been this bad," said Pam Sturm, the St. Louis chapter president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS workers. "Years past, you might go a couple days without getting cussed out. Now it happens every day."

"A lot of people think we should just take 'service' out of our name altogether."

April 7, 2015

NTEU draws attention to the impact of IRS budget cuts (Federal News Radio)

April 7, 2015

IRS Employees Say they are Unfairly Blamed for Deteriorating Service Caused by 5 Straight Years of Budget Cuts (AllGov.com)
Employees at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are fed up with being blamed for delays in service that they say are the result of budget cuts.

Those manning taxpayer assistance centers have informed their union reps that they "get yelled at, have papers thrown at [them], and are spoken down to [because] the demand is too high for the resources available," union President Colleen Kelley told reporters in a conference call.

At one center in Pittsburgh, staffing is so poor that fewer than 40% of calls are answered.

"That's a horrible percentage, and it certainly does not instill confidence in the federal government," an employee told union officials, according to Kelley.

April 8, 2015

An Emotional Audit: IRS Workers Are Miserable and Overwhelmed (
Bloomberg Businessweek)
They start lining up before 7 a.m. An hour and a half later, more than 60 people are waiting to get into the Internal Revenue Service's Taxpayer Assistance Center in Philadelphia, across the street from the Liberty Bell. Young men in parkas and Phillies caps lean sullenly against the wall. Older couples camp on the hard marble floor with their forms in their laps.

Many IRS veterans have similar stories about the software switchover. "It's been really tough," says Jenny Brown, a tax examiner in an IRS facility in Ogden, Utah, and president of the local National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) chapter there. "There were times when I actually called my sons and said, 'OK, how do I do this?' And they tried to walk me through, because there just aren't enough people here to do it."

April 8, 2015

A standard dejection in the IRS help line (Washington Post)
By midmorning, the line of taxpayers outside the IRS office stretched along the marble wall, past the elevators and water fountain, back to the metal detectors near the entrance of the Earle Cabell Federal Building.

"They know the minute we say, 'I'm going to have to transfer you to someone who can answer your question,' they're going to be on hold for a number of hours," said Donna Miller, an agent working for the local chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union.

April 8, 2015

IRS Offices Running out of Tax Forms (Accounting Today)
Taxpayers are waiting on long lines in front of the Internal Revenue Service's Taxpayer Assistance Centers for routine services this tax season, as the IRS's budget crunch even limits the number of printed tax forms the agency can distribute.

The head of the union representing IRS employees, National Treasury Employees Union national president Colleen M. Kelley, told reporters Monday in a conference call about reports she had received from front-line IRS personnel about the impact of the budget cuts.

"At a walk-in site, a Taxpayer Assistance Center, in Farmers Branch, Texas, they say that 'taxpayers state they are standing in line outside of the building beginning at 4 AM. Families are trying to submit their W-7 applications to get ITIN numbers at the Taxpayer Assistance Center, and they're standing there for six hours or more. In order to get those numbers, every applicant in the family has to be present. That includes young children, who are often subjected to cold weather and rain, while they're standing outside waiting to get into the building.'

April 9, 2015

Why you may not have received your federal tax refund yet (
Christian Science Monitor)
The Internal Revenue Service says that continued budget cuts that have forced it to cut thousands of jobs, making it slower to process tax returns and issue refunds this year. The agency also says delays are caused by taxpayers filling later in the season.

"The hiring freeze the IRS implemented to cope with reckless budget cuts imposed by Congress for five years in a row is...making it virtually impossible for the IRS to hire new workers to replace experienced and retiring employees," National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley told the Washington Post. "The hiring freeze is discouraging to applicants with the skills and education the agency needs."

The union is currently backing the $12.9 billion budget proposed by the Obama administration for the IRS in 2016, which would allow the agency to hire 3,000 more employees to answer phones and help with customer service issues.

April 12, 2015

IRS Cuts Protect Wealthy (
Labor Notes)
However, Internal Revenue Service workers--members of the National Treasury Employees Union--have been screaming from the rooftops that their ability to collect revenue to fund government programs has been severely hampered by short staffing and underfunding.

Those problems sound familiar, right? For many workers in the public sector, it's a vicious cycle.

Union members at the IRS have been making all these points for years. In February they packed the Capitol and their president testified before Congress about the impact of cuts.

April 13, 2015

IRS Budget Cuts Make For Nightmarish Filing Season (NPR)

April 14, 2015

IRS Budget Cuts (Local News Coverage)



IRS budget cuts hurting customer service (The Detroit News)
Taxpayers could be waiting longer on the IRS to answer its phone or issue a refund this tax season due to a shortage of staff.

At $10.9 billion, this year's IRS budget is the lowest since 2008. The National Treasury Employees Union is backing the $12.9 billion level proposed by the Obama administration for 2016. It would fund 3,000 more employees to help answer phone lines.

"It is counterintuitive and counterproductive to cut IRS staffing when the demand for the agency's service continues to grow," Colleen M. Kelley, the union's president, said in a statement.

April 7, 2015

Louisiana's IRS workforce down 22 percent since 2011 (
The (New Orleans, La.) Times-Picayune)
Wonder why it's taking longer to get help with your federal taxes? The IRS and its employees' union blame budget cuts.

Data released this week by the National Treasury Employees Union says that the agency's full-time and seasonal staff fell from 108,460 in 2011 to 90,322 in February, 2015, or 16.7 percent.

The drop, from a percentage basis, was worse in Louisiana, where full-time and seasonal IRS employment dropped from 456 in 2011 to 386 in 2015, a percentage drop of 22.1 percent.

"Congress created this problem and Congress can fix it by giving the IRS the resources it needs to accomplish its mission," said Treasury Employees' Union President Colleen Kelley. "Budget cuts for five years -- and a resulting hiring freeze -- are taking a toll. Taxpayers are suffering and the economy is hurting as a result of these ill-advised cuts. That is the resounding lesson of the 2015 tax-filing season."

April 7, 2015

IRS: Budget cuts, reduced staffing mean delays, headaches for taxpayers (The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune)
If tax season wasn't already aggravating enough, steep budget cuts and reduced staffing -- including the shedding of more than 900 IRS jobs in Utah alone -- will mean longer waits for answers to tax questions and delays in processing returns.

Jenny Brown, president of the Ogden chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union, said employees have been stretched incredibly thin, to the point they are spending their own money to buy office supplies and call-center workers are unable to answer more than half the calls that come in.

"It's affected them drastically," she said. "We're down to less than 40 percent of the calls we get that we can answer and, you know, taxpayers, when they call, they're angry because they can't get through and they have to wait so long and I understand that, and you know we get frustrated, too...The taxpayer wants us to do something that we're no longer allowed to do to help them."

April 8, 2015

Long lines, daunting waits frustrate taxpayers needing help (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.))
With Wednesday's filing deadline bearing down, some frustrated taxpayers are driving 48 miles from one overwhelmed IRS office in Plantation to another in West Palm Beach hoping to find someone who can help them complete their income-tax forms.

Most who arrive after 9:30 a.m. are turned away.

"A lot are not getting in because the appointments are four to six weeks out," said McGowan, president of the local chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union. "Right now, anybody with an issue is not going to get in before April 15th. The burden has shifted to other offices."

April 10, 2015

Utah down 900 IRS jobs since 2011 (Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah))
Jenny Brown, president NTEU Chapter 67, which represents employees at the IRS Ogden Service Center, said IRS employees are also frustrated by their diminished ability to serve taxpayers.

"Taxpayers trying to unravel the complex federal tax code are finding it harder and harder to get help from us. So are victims of identity theft. IRS employees want to help but there are not enough of us to provide the level of taxpayer assistance we used to provide. Helping taxpayers is an important part of our public-service mission and falling short in that area is extremely frustrating to the IRS workforce," Brown said.

NTEU said it supports the administration's $12.9 billion FY 2016 request for the IRS, an increase of more than $1.9 billion from the current level.

April 12, 2015

IRS, union say it needs more workers to do the job right (The (Bergen, N.J.) Record)
As the April 15 tax filing deadline approaches, the head of the Internal Revenue Service and the union for its workers agree on one thing: Five years of budget cuts have left the agency struggling to do its job.

"Taxpayers are suffering and the economy is hurting as a result of these ill-advised cuts," Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said last week. "Enforcing the world's most complex tax code is a massive undertaking. To do it right, the IRS requires an appropriate level of staffing."

April 13, 2015

Long lines, daunting waits frustrate taxpayers needing help (Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel)
With Wednesday's filing deadline bearing down, some frustrated taxpayers are driving 48 miles from one overwhelmed IRS office in Plantation to another in West Palm Beach hoping to find someone who can help them complete their income-tax forms.

"A lot are not getting in because the appointments are four to six weeks out," said McGowan, president of the local chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union. "Right now, anybody with an issue is not going to get in before April 15th. The burden has shifted to other offices."

April 13, 2015

IRS requires appropriate level of staffing to enforce tax code (Uncover California)
The head of Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) head and the union for its workers agree that the agency has struggled to do its job due to five years of budget cuts.

Since fiscal 2011, Congress has cut the IRS budget by a total of $1.2 billion to the current $10.9 billion. According to the National Treasury Employees Union, this led to a four-year hiring freeze, which cut the workforce from more than 108,000 workers to about 90,000. The union said that in New Jersey, about 980 people work for the IRS, down more than 21% from 2011.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union said that ill-advised cuts have hurt the economy and have affected taxpayers. Implementation of the world's most complex tax code is a huge responsibility and the IRS requires an appropriate level of staffing to do it in a proper manner.

April 13, 2015

Taxpayer Services Budget Cuts Affect Taxpayers (KOGO Radio, San Diego, Calif.)

April 15, 2015

IRS Cuts Hurt Georgia Taxpayers, Union Says (
WABE-Atlanta NPR)
The National Treasury Employees Union says the wait times are a result of federal budget cuts. The union says Georgia has lost nearly 1,900 IRS workers since 2011. Terry Scott, president of NTEU Chapter 26 in Atlanta, says with fewer employees, local offices are no longer offering tax preparation help.

"Taxpayers are very frustrated, employees are very frustrated," says Scott. "Right here in metro Atlanta I have four or five different locations where taxpayers would normally walk in to get assistance. Those lines are sometimes wrapped around the buildings...These people are in line trying to get a service the agency no longer offers."

April 15, 2015

Letter to the Editor: Abysmal tax season (Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Fayetteville)
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said that due to five straight years of budget cuts by Congress, taxpayer service this filing season has been "abysmal." As president of the local chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union, I can tell you from firsthand experience that IRS employees want to serve the public but there are not enough of us.

Here in Arkansas, the number of IRS employees has declined by nearly 28 percent since 2011, while the number of taxpayers and the complexity of the tax code has continued to grow.

Seniors and taxpayers with disabilities have had to wait in long lines and couldn't get the help they used to receive from our offices. Victims of identity theft often have to wait months for a resolution and their tax refund.

By Danny Lunsford, President, NTEU Chapter 59 (IRS Arkansas)

April 17, 2015

Letter to the Editor: Record long waits hurt taxpayers (
Clarion Ledger (Miss.))
As president of the local chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union, representing IRS employees in Mississippi, I can tell you that IRS employees are just as frustrated as taxpayers. We simply cannot provide the level of service we did in the past because our numbers are being cut each year.

In Mississippi, the number of IRS employees to help taxpayers has dropped by 30 percent since 2011. That is a decline of 70 workers. That hurts every taxpayer in our state. Taxpayers have a right to have their questions answered by trained IRS personnel. Identity theft victims are waiting more than 120 days for their cases to be resolved. The elderly and disabled can no longer get help preparing their returns.

Yolanda Crump, President, NTEU Chapter 13 (IRS Mississippi)

April 17, 2015

Oklahoma City Anniversary Bombing

20 years after Oklahoma City bombing, scars remain (Federal Times)
The Oklahoma City Bombing was an act of rage against the government and the federal employees who serve it, said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley.

"The Oklahoma City bombing was not a random act," President Kelley said. "It was a deliberate attack on federal employees and serves as a reminder of the need to foster respect for government service and federal workers."

"After 20 years, federal employees continue to persevere. But we never forget," Kelley said.

April 17, 2015

Two decades after Oklahoma City bombing, the crime still sears workers (Washington Post)
Although the Oklahoma City bombing happened two decades ago, Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union and a former Internal Revenue Service agent, said it "is as fresh as if this horrific tragedy occurred just yesterday."

"But rather than bow to fear as the attackers intended, the federal community banded together and recommitted itself to public service...We will never forget."

April 19, 2015

Back to top


Congressional Budget Plan


Familiar themes emerge as budget conferees begin debate (CyberFEDS)
There were no surprises as House-Senate conferees began debate on a FY 2016 budget resolution.

Earlier in the day, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley was just one of several union representatives calling on the committee to look "elsewhere [than federal workers] for additional savings," saying Congress should not "continue to use their pay and benefits as a piggy bank to fund other things."

April 21, 2015

Back to top

Other News

 

Social Security tries to balance online, in-person services (Baltimore Sun)
A push to expand online services at the Social Security Administration is meeting resistance from a federal union that represents thousands of agency employees and groups that fear the effort will minimize face-to-face help for seniors and the disabled.

The National Treasury Employees Union is also reviewing the implications of the plan. The union represents about 1,600 employees involved with deciding whether applicants are eligible for disability payments -- an effort that has resulted in huge backlogs.

The union "supports the Social Security Administration's goal of reducing the case backlog and improving workplace efficiency," NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said. "We believe that the agency's Vision 2025 plan, if framed and implemented appropriately, can be a tool to achieve those goals."

April 29, 2015


 

 

 




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