IRS recalls major swath of workforce for filing season

January 15, 2019

Facing tax-filing season, the IRS will recall tens of thousands of employees to work without pay amid the government shutdown, according to a contingency plan released Tuesday.

The Trump administration has said taxpayers will get their much-anticipated refunds, though it was unclear how, since most of the IRS’s workforce was sent home because of the impasse over White House demands for border-wall funding.

The new plan for filing season, which begins Jan. 28, says roughly 46,000 of the 80,000 workers on the IRS payroll will be placed in “excepted” status, meaning they’re considered essential to operations and should report to work even though they won’t receive their pay until the shutdown is over.

Previously, only about 10,000 workers were considered exempt from the shutdown.

It’s the latest in a series of steps the administration is taking to reduce public angst or a backlash over the shutdown, which entered its 25th day on Tuesday.

The Food and Drug Administration this week said it recalled roughly 400 inspectors, including 150 who work on food safety, as headlines questioned whether it was still safe to go grocery shopping. Other inspectors will examine things like medical devices and drugs.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it brought 500 safety inspectors back on the job and expects to bring back more in the coming days, according to the Associated Press.

Already, thousands of air traffic controllers are working without pay amid the shutdown, prompting its union to demand immediate pay from a Treasury judgment fund. A judge on Tuesday denied their request for a temporary restraining order that would make them whole, however.

Democrats say the best way to ease the pain is to vote to reopen the government and fight over border security at a later date.

Update hourly