While most taxpayers have natural concerns about how the shutdown of the federal government will affect their tax returns, the IRS workers themselves face perhaps an even greater concern: How will they survive financially until the government reopens?
More than 800,000 federal employees across all branches of government are truly feeling the pinch for the first time this weekend as it is the first payday in which their paychecks are either withheld or nonexistent. The IRS alone employs nearly 80,000 workers on a regular basis. Among these, nearly 90 percent are currently on unpaid furlough until the government reopens; the remaining workers deemed “essential” must continue showing up for work, but they still won’t see a paycheck for their hours worked until the shutdown ends.
In other words—while most Americans wait to see whether their refunds will come on time, most IRS workers are without paychecks entirely.
The extended crisis is beginning to spark some pushback from federal employees affected by the shutdown, including IRS workers. In Fresno, California, where some 5000 IRS workers are feeling the pinch, local federal union representatives are calling out the government for making them “political pawns.” In Ogden, Utah, home to another 5000 IRS workers, furloughed employees and their supporters staged a rally this week demanding a resolution to the crisis.
What Does It Mean for Taxpayers?
Ultimately, the best answer to this question is “Wait and see.” Although the White House ruled this week that tax refunds will be processed, the IRS remains painfully understaffed, and even as the agency prepares to call some furloughed workers back to their desks to deal with the workload, no money will be available to pay those workers until the government reopens.
In short—most IRS employees still aren’t working, and those who are forced to keep working have low morale and low motivation. Whether the agency can keep up with the workload of processing refunds under these conditions remains to be seen.
For any other tax concerns, the experts at the Highland Tax Group are here to help as usual. Call us at 720-398-6088 to schedule an appointment.