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State-Ordered Virus Closures Force IRS to Shut Down Facilities

March 20, 2020, 8:06 PM

IRS facilities, including call centers and return processing centers, across the U.S. are closing in response to coronavirus directives from state governors to close all businesses that aren’t essential.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees, confirmed that facilities in Fresno, Calif., have closed and sites in Philadelphia are closing Friday. An IRS employee working out of Pittsburgh also independently verified that their operations have been shut down.

The IRS didn’t return a request for comment.

This latest development comes as governors in states including New York, California, and Pennsylvania ordered new restrictions on the types of businesses that are allowed to remain open as the country tries to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in an email Thursday evening to employees said he was cutting onsite staff at facilities performing “mission-critical” duties, such as processing tax returns, in half. But he wouldn’t go so far as to shut down those operations entirely.

The virus is hitting the U.S. in the middle of the current filing season, placing a strain on the IRS and its workers to maintain operations even with the administration pushing tax filing and payment deadlines back from April to July.

The latest actions by state leaders now force full-scale closures that many IRS employees and the NTEU have been requesting.

“IRS is working to implement workplace changes to address the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the outbreak rapidly evolving, they are not enough,” NTEU President Tony Reardon said in a statement Friday responding to the commissioner’s Thursday email.

To contact the reporter on this story: Allyson Versprille in Washington at aversprille@bloombergtax.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Patrick Ambrosio at pambrosio@bloombergtax.com; Meg Shreve at mshreve@bloombergtax.com

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