Published April 19, 2013
The IRS will issue official furlough notices next week to employees detailing that the agency will be closed for five days with unpaid leave for workers this summer because of the sequester.
In a memo to employees, IRS Acting Commissioner Steve Miller said the furlough days will be May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22 and Aug. 30 with two additional days possible in August or September. During these days, all public-facing operations will be closed as will toll-free operations and Taxpayer Assistance Centers.
“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,” he wrote in an internal memo shared with FOX Business.
Every IRS worker will be covered by the furlough. Personnel in charge of preserving systems and building security might be asked to work these days, but will be taking furlough days on alternative dates within those pay periods.
“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,” Miller wrote.
The head of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) said in a statement Friday that the unpaid leave will not only hurt IRS employees but taxpayers as well.
“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,” Colleen M. Kelley said. “I believe this is an unprecedented event that leaves taxpayers out in the cold.”
There is speculation that the furloughs could result in fewer audits this year. A report released earlier this week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse shows audit rates dipped 5.3% last year and could fall even more this year with less personnel available.
On April 9, Miller testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government and discussed the impact of sequestration and told lawmakers that he anticipates a considerable reduction in the revenues the agency will collect and the calls it can answer.
"...without a change in the current budget environment, the American people will see erosion in our ability to serve them, and the Federal government will see fewer receipts from our enforcement activities," he continued to explain to lawmakers.