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IRS Plans to Reopen More Facilities, Recall Workers in June (1)

June 4, 2020, 3:57 PMUpdated: June 4, 2020, 7:29 PM

The IRS plans to recall workers at facilities in eight more states and one U.S. territory throughout the month of June, according to an internal email sent by IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

The agency has already recalled thousands of workers in Kentucky, Utah, and Texas. The next phase of the reopening plan will include key processing centers, notice print facilities, and call centers, including important sites in Fresno, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo., Rettig said in a Wednesday evening email.

Facilities in Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Michigan will bring back workers beginning June 15. Indiana, Ohio, California, Oregon, and Puerto Rico will do so beginning June 29.

The latest move is another step toward resuming normal operations at the IRS, which is especially important given the fast-approaching July 15 tax filing deadline—extended by three months earlier this year. The agency also faces a backlog of millions of unprocessed tax returns and other mail.

The decision to bring back workers to perform tasks like processing paper tax returns and staffing phone lines are being made in accordance with state and local guidelines, Rettig said. Employees who can telework or are at high-risk of serious health complications from Covid-19 won’t be recalled at this time.

“As we continue to work through important issues, your health, safety and well-being are paramount to me,” Rettig said. “While we closely monitor developments, we also need to continue to meet our mission on behalf of the nation.”

The National Treasury Employees Union said Thursday it is still waiting to hear from the IRS how many employees will be affected by the announcement. The union, which represents government employees at 33 federal agencies and departments, reiterated that the agency should proceed cautiously and do more to improve the safety of its facilities.

“We understand that the IRS has a backlog of important work that cannot be done remotely and they need to restart systems as soon as possible, but our concerns about the coronavirus pandemic have not changed,” NTEU national president Tony Reardon said in a statement. “Employees remain anxious about the risks posed by taking public transportation, being in enclosed facilities with hundreds of coworkers and whether their work stations will be consistently and properly cleaned and disinfected.”

(Updates with more details from IRS, statement from union beginning in the sixth paragraph.)

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; Vandana Mathur at vmathur@bloombergtax.com