As the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States trudges on at day 35, with seemingly no immediate end in sight, the effects are starting to be felt at a high level. TSA agents and air traffic controllers have begun calling out to the point that the Federal Aviation Administration is being forced to halt flights in major airports. And the shutdown is already causing headaches for the IRS as we head into tax season this coming Monday.
In an effort to get ahead of processing returns, the IRS asked 26,000 staffers to return to work without pay this week, but according to Politico, only around 12,000 actually reported back as of Tuesday.
Many of the employees who refused to comply, some of whom make as low as $12 per hour, simply cannot afford to go back to work — whether it’s paying for childcare or even putting gas in their cars. Union contract provisions allow for employees to miss work if it would be a “hardship” to show up, and literally not getting paid certainly falls under that umbrella:
“After a month with no pay, real hardship does exist for IRS employees including not having the money needed to get back and forth to work or to pay for the child care necessary to return to work right now,” Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. The NTEU represents about 70,000 IRS workers.
The IRS does plan to be up and running in preparation for filing season however it goes without saying that it’s going to be an uphill battle. Already the IRS is reportedly currently only able to answer about a third of its calls, and the wait time to actually get someone on the phone can take from 25 minutes to 40 minutes.
(Via CBS News)