IRS won’t furlough employees until after tax-filing season

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) told employees on Thursday that agency furloughs from sequestration would not begin until after tax-filing season, according to a union that represents agency workers.

The IRS said the sequester cuts would require furloughs at the agency totaling five to seven days.

In a message to its ranks of tax examiners and other employees, IRS officials said they plan to continue an ongoing hiring freeze and would cut other costs associated with travel, training, facilities and supplies, according to the National Treasury Employees Union.

"None of these developments is good for the agency, for employees or for taxpayers,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley said in a written statement. “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.”

NTEU represents roughly 150,000 federal workers across 31 agencies. 

Earlier this week, the union and IRS workers warned of refund delays, shelved identity fraud cases and other negative consequences that would occur if the furloughs came amid the spring tax season.

The union said it would bargain on behalf of its members with the IRS and other agencies as they adopt plans to operate under the sequester.

News of the IRS furloughs came hours before the government-wide spending cuts totaling $85 billion were set to take effect.