Due to health concerns resulting from the spread of COVID-19, the IRS has put several safety measures in place to protect their employees. The IRS has cut staffing in half in many processing and call centers around the country. Additionally, locations which see visitors face-to-face, such as the Taxpayer Advocate Service and other assistance centers have suspended operations completely. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig also declared that all employees who are able to telework should do so. For instances where this is not possible, the IRS has provided weather and safety leave, which is paid leave strictly for emergency situations.
The changes come after criticism from the National Treasury Employees Union, as well as concerns from individual IRS employees about their work environment.
Rettig pointed out that these changes should not have a significant impact on essential outputs of the IRS, such as tax return and refund processing. He also said these changes are temporary, and will be reevaluated in two weeks, on April 4.
Despite IRS reassurances, we encourage taxpayers to use an electronic means to file their tax return and to request direct deposit of refunds. Use of these methods generally results in a quicker turnaround for tax return processing and refund issuance, and are likely to ease the effects of current IRS staffing demands.
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