The first wave of employees returned to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Headquarters Building last week, nearly six months after extensive flooding closed the building at 1111 Constitution Avenue NW. In addition, as of December 11, the temporary procedures for submitting certain requests and submissions will no longer be in effect and taxpayers should make their submissions as they did prior to the closing of the building.
“The reopening of the Headquarters wraps up an unprecedented period for the IRS Headquarters personnel,” said Commissioner Mark W. Everson in a prepared statement announcing the return of the staff.
The return of more than 2,000 employees will continue in phases in coming weeks following repairs to key parts of the infrastructure, including electrical equipment and air handlers. Despite the phased return of IRS employees, taxpayers should follow the normal instructions contained in Revenue Procedure 2005-68 and 2006-1 for expedited ruling requests for reorganizations and section 355 distributions. Normal procedures will also begin December 11 for all other submissions as described in Revenue Procedure 2006-1, including all submissions related to changes in accounting method or period or a Section 301.9100 request for extension of time on a request for change in accounting method or period.
IRS employees, who have been working at 15 other buildings in the Metro Washington area, are moving back into the IRS Headquarters in stages, beginning with about 400 employees on December 8. More than 600 additional employees will return by Monday, December 11, including much of the Chief Counsel Operation. Another 800 employees will be back in the building by December 19. A small number of employees will return after January 1, 2007.
The General Services Administration (GSA) spent more than $25 million repairing the building, which suffered extensive damage in subbasement and basement. The subbasement, which holds all the building’s electrical and maintenance equipment, including electrical transformers, switchgears and chillers, was under 20 feet of water. The electrical and air systems have been repaired, however, constructions work will continue in the damaged basement areas, including food service canteens, offices, ceiling tiles and some computer equipment, will continue until approximately April.
The building has been extensively tested by a variety of health and safety officials during this period. The Federal Occupational Health Service (FOH), part of Health and Human Services, has approved the building as safe for occupancy. A team of industrial hygienists has continually monitored the facility since the flood to ensure the environment was safe for anyone entering the building. Building management staff and the industrial hygienists have taken extraordinary measures to thoroughly clean, test and inspect the building.
“I appreciate the efforts of all our employees during this period,” Everson continued. “In addition, I want to thank the IRS workers, contractors and GSA who repaired the building and ensured its’ safety for employees. I particularly want to thank GSA for keeping this project on track and meeting key deadlines so the Headquarters could reopen before the beginning of the January tax season.”
“Teamwork is never more important than in times of emergency. The IRS performs a vital mission for our citizens and our nation, and is among GSA’s most important client agencies. When disaster struck, we were privileged to help, first by finding alternative workspace, and then by arranging the required repairs and renovations in record time,” said GSA Administrator Lurita Doan.