Despite coronavirus lockdown, IRS recalling thousands of workers to serve Americans' 'urgent' tax needs

Agency will first ask for volunteers to return to perform mission-critical tasks

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The IRS is asking some of its workers to return to the office, even as many states remain under strict lockdown guidelines.

A spokesperson for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) confirmed in a statement to FOX Business it has been informed that the IRS has begun the process of recalling certain employees for “mission-critical work that cannot be done remotely.”

“We appreciate that the agency said it will first solicit volunteers, with incentive pay, to return to the workplace,” the NTEU spokesperson said. “Their tasks include opening taxpayer correspondence, handling tax documents, taking taxpayer telephone calls and performing other functions related to the filing season. If there are not enough volunteers, the agency will direct employees to return to the workplace.”

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A spokesperson for the IRS confirmed the agency has requested, but not required, “several thousand employees to volunteer to return to work along with an offer for incentive pay.”

“To provide American taxpayers, including the most vulnerable, with the services they expect, it is essential that the IRS resumes a number of key responsibilities,” the IRS spokesperson added.

The agency will recall about 10,000 workers across 10 locations under the initial wave of worker recalls. The NTEU said workers will be provided with PPE and will be following social distancing guidelines.

There are no immediate plans to make changes among workers who have been successfully teleworking.

The news was first reported by Politico on Monday.

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The IRS has been particularly busy throughout recent months. Not only is the tax agency in the midst of an extended tax season, with a deadline that has been postponed until July 15, it has also been tasked with doling out millions of economic impact payments to American households as a form of economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic. As of last week, more than 88 million payments were made – overall, the agency expects to make at least 150 million payments.

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