Washington, D.C.—The head of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) said today the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send out furlough notices on Monday to the entire IRS workforce, identifying five furlough days where the agency will shut down entirely. The 30-day notices to employees also leave open the possibility of another two unpaid furlough days.
“Implementation of any furlough days is a disappointing development,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “Furloughing IRS employees is further evidence of the ongoing damage sequestration is causing across the country.” Kelley emphasized that NTEU is continuing its discussions with the IRS over the furlough process with the goal of mitigating the impact on employees.
The IRS has informed employees that the five identified furlough days are: May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22, and Aug. 30. On those days all public operations of the IRS will be shut down, leaving taxpayers without access to information and assistance from frontline workers.
President Kelley noted that considerable tax-filing goes on throughout the year, including by small businesses, taxpayers who make quarterly payments, businesses operating on a fiscal year basis, estates, government entities and others. “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,” Kelley said. “I believe this is an unprecedented event that leaves taxpayers out in the cold.”
The furloughs are being driven by the ongoing sequestration that is forcing federal agencies, including the IRS, to severely slash their budgets.
“It is clear that the best course for federal employees, their agencies and the nation would be for Congress to end the sequester,” said Kelley, who has been a vocal advocate ending sequestration.
“Like all federal employees, those at the IRS are well into the third year of a pay freeze,” President Kelley said, “and now they face the unwelcome prospect of a pay cut resulting from unpaid furlough days.”
NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.