IRS Furlough of Five Days Scheduled for Summer

The IRS will formally issue furlough notices to its employees during the week of May 27.  The furlough will take place this summer, consisting of five days of unpaid leave during the summer.

According to official notification, the furlough will take place on May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22, and August 30.  During the furlough, all offices and services of the IRS that interface with the public will be closed.

There is the possibility that two additional days will be added to the furlough during the months of August and September.

The furlough to the IRS and other governmental agencies is the result of the sequester.  The sequester is a series of automatic budget cuts that went into effect when President Obama and Congress could not make enough spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion.

President Obama and Congress agreed to approximately $2.5 trillion in cuts.  The budget cuts from the sequester, which apply to all governmental programs rather than to only select programs deemed of less importance, account for an additional $1 trillion in budget cuts.

“Despite successful efforts over the past year to find cost savings and our recent efforts to minimize the effects of sequestration, we still had to make tough decisions on the furlough dates and the best way to implement them,” noted IRS Acting Commissioner Steve Miller in the memo that will be issued to IRS employees.

The furlough will apply to all employees of the IRS.  Furlough days of personnel involved in physical and information security of the IRS offices will have their furlough days staggered so that these essential controls remain in place.

Miller noted that they attempted to schedule the furlough days such that it did not have a significant impact on a single pay period for the IRS’ employees or consecutive pay periods.

“We wanted to make sure there is only one furlough day a pay period, and we have also worked to stagger the dates further so that there are some pay periods during the summer with no furlough days,” Miller wrote.

“On these days, phones calls to the IRS will go unanswered and Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country will have ‘closed’ signs in their windows,” Colleen M. Kelley said.  “I believe this is an unprecedented event that leaves taxpayers out in the cold.”

There is also a belief that the furloughs will result in fewer audits of federal income tax returns in 2013 simply because there are fewer man hours in the year to perform the work.  Audits of tax returns fell over 5% in 2012.

Miller noted in April that the reduced staffing levels of the IRS would have a ripple effect, because it would equate to the IRS collecting less tax revenue.

“Without a change in the current budget environment, the American people will see erosion in our ability to serve them, and the Federal government will see fewer receipts from our enforcement activities,” Miller noted before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.