Automatic federal spending cuts – known as the sequester – took effect today. While President Obama and Republican lawmakers sparred as to who is to blame, the IRS has said the cuts should not have an immediate impact to this year’s filing season.
According to National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), any reduction in the IRS workforce will not occur until after the filing season has passed.
NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley told its employees in a Feb 28. statement that they will work with the IRS to find cost savings that could head off mandatory furloughs, or short unpaid leaves of absence.
“The IRS is projecting between five and seven furlough days beginning sometime this summer,” President Kelley said. “We have had informal discussions with the agency about this matter and we will engage in bargaining when the formal notice of furlough is provided.”
Along with the potential furloughs, the IRS has said it would continue to operate under a hiring freeze and will cut costs in the areas of travel and training.
“None of these developments is good for the agency, for employees or for taxpayers,” President Kelley said. “IRS employees are middle class workers who have had their pay frozen for over two years. Those furloughs will hurt their ability to pay their bills and serve the public.”
The sequester funding cuts translate into the cash-strapped IRS being asked to do the same job with less personnel and less resources.
Nevertheless, Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said in a memo to employees this week that furloughs will be tabled until after the filing season, easily the busiest time of the year for the IRS.
As a result, taxpayers should not see any delay in the processing of their tax returns or the payout of federal refund checks. Three out of four individual filers claim a refund, and taxpayers who file their returns electronically and elect to have their refund directly deposited to a bank account should get their money in as little as 10 days.