By Ken Berry
Maybe IRS agents checked their pockets and discovered some money they didn't know they had. At any rate, the IRS has announced it is canceling the furlough day initially scheduled for July 22. The offices will be open and fully staffed after all.
The IRS already closed its doors three days this year – May 24, June 14, and July 5 – due to budget cuts required by the federal sequester. Another day off at the end of the summer is still scheduled for August 30. But the nation's tax collectors found enough leeway in the budget to dodge the fourth furlough day.
The announcement was made to IRS employees on July 16 by IRS Principal Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Daniel. Here's what he said:
"On July 9, I promised to give you updates on the furloughs. Today, I want to share with you some important news. As we continue to take numerous and varied actions to address our budget situation, we have determined we are able to cancel the scheduled furlough day for next Monday, July 22.
"The IRS will be open for taxpayers that day as scheduled, and all employees will be paid for that day. This step follows a lot of hard work across the Service to cut costs. I realize that this announcement comes on very short notice. Therefore, unscheduled leave will be permitted that day, and I am emphasizing to all managers that if their employees want to take leave on July 22, they should be allowed to do so. More information will be available on IRWeb.
"I also wanted to share with you that my trip last week to the Atlanta campus and offices reinforced what I'm seeing across the Service and my ongoing concern about the impact that the sequester and other budget cuts would have on our people and operations. I was incredibly impressed with the talent and dedication of the IRS workforce during my visit. I was able to see in real time how the IRS is working to serve individuals, families, small businesses, and others to help them meet their tax obligations. This important work, along with similar work being done by the IRS workforce across the country, must be sustained for the IRS to effectively serve taxpayers.
"I appreciate your continued hard work as we finalize our 2013 budget planning, and I will keep you informed as we determine the status of the August 30 furlough day."
The news was greeted favorably by the union representing IRS employees, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). "While I am concerned that this announcement comes so close to the planned furlough day, it is a positive development arising from our continuing discussions with the agency on furloughs," said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley in a prepared statement. "We have been encouraging the agency, and working with it, in an effort to find savings sufficient to allow it to cancel employee furloughs. As we continue these discussions, we will be pressing for cancellation of the fifth and final planned furlough day, on August 30."
Kelley was also pleased that the IRS is allowing employees to use unscheduled leave next Monday. She reiterated the IRS will be operating at full throttle. "Dealing with tax matters is a year-round business, not just during the traditional tax-filing season," said Kelley. "Whether you have an estate issue, want to know about filing an amended return, are dealing with the growing crime of identity theft, or have any of a number of tax-related questions or issues, the IRS needs to be open for America's taxpayers."