Washington D.C. – The IRS has canceled plans to close the Tax Processing Center in Austin, a welcome reprieve for frontline employees in Texas who can now stay on the job tackling the backlog of returns, processing new ones and improving service to all American taxpayers.
The National Treasury Employees Union, as early as May 2021, had urged the IRS to reconsider its plan to close the submission processing operation in Austin because the agency was already struggling with backlogs and staffing shortages.
“We applaud the IRS for finally recognizing that those employees in Austin are essential to the agency’s ability to dig out from the backlog of returns and correspondence, and that there is an ongoing need for the IRS to retain this capacity,” NTEU National President Tony Reardon said. “This decision, although later than we would have liked, allows employees in Austin to stop worrying that their jobs were about to disappear, and instead focus on delivering a successful filing season, the third of the pandemic.”
The IRS in 2016 announced plans to consolidate all submission processing work from five sites to two. As a result, the Fresno, Calif., center closed in September 2021, over NTEU’s objections, forcing thousands of employees to find other IRS jobs, retire or leave the agency. With the closure of Austin in 2024, that would have left only Ogden, Utah and Kansas City with submission processing centers.
The IRS has struggled this year with unusually high backlogs and difficulty hiring new employees, a combination that made it especially clear how unwise it would be to close Austin and lose even more skilled employees. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently advised the agency to keep Austin open, and members of Congress -- including Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas; Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey; Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey; and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada -- were calling on the agency to reverse course.
“Keeping Austin’s submission processing operation open for business is a smart decision, but it will not by itself alleviate the backlog and improve customer service,” Reardon said. “We still support proposals to increase IRS funding for staffing and modernization and rebuild the agency after 10 years of budget cuts.”
NTEU represents federal employees in 34 federal agencies and departments.