OGDEN — More Ogden-area Internal Revenue Service workers will be back on the job this week per the agency's contingency plan for the looming tax-filing season.
Still, most of the 5,000 or so IRS workers in the area will remain furloughed as the partial federal government shutdown continues. And the 337 Ogden workers to be called back — on top of the 1,250 or so that have been working — still won't get paid, not yet anyway.
“There is no doubt the IRS needs to get ready for the 2019 filing season that starts Jan. 28, and IRS employees want to work. But the hard, cold reality is that they’ve already missed a paycheck and soon they’ll be asked to work for free for as long as the shutdown lasts,” Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a press release.
Per Tuesday's news, the IRS, which employs around 80,000 people nationwide, will be calling more than 36,000 furloughed employees back to work across the country as it gears up for tax-filing season. That'll bolster the number of IRS employees working nationally from 9,600 to around 46,000, according to NTEU figures.
Just 337 of the total going back to work, though, will be in Ogden, according to Jenny Brown, head of NTEU Chapter 67, which represents the Ogden area. That's a smaller number than she anticipated, and she echoed Reardon's concerns that IRS workers, working or furloughed, still won't be getting paid.
Brown, among the furloughed Ogden IRS workers, said those going back to work will have to cover the cost of gasoline to get to and from work and, potentially, childcare if they have kids. "There are expenses that go along with going to work, but they're not getting any pay," Brown said.
The IRS is a major employer in Ogden and a key location for the agency's operations. Furloughed federal employees here rallied last week in Ogden to press for an end to the shutdown, saying they're having a hard time getting by without a paycheck. Brown said IRS workers continue to struggle.
She visited the food pantry Tuesday of Catholic Community Services, which has opened its doors to furloughed federal workers, and saw numerous colleagues. "There were a lot of federal employees in there picking up food," she said.
Some furloughed workers have expressed concern about missing mortgage payments, not being able to buy prescription medicine and more. Others have successfully tapped into unemployment benefits for help, Brown said, but getting part-time work can be tough. She said employers are leery of hiring furloughed workers knowing they could lose them once the shutdown ends.
The partial shutdown started Dec. 22, after federal lawmakers and President Donald Trump were unable to agree on a funding measure to keep the impacted governmental agencies operating. Trump's call for $5.7 billion in funds to bolster the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, opposed by many Democratic lawmakers, is the key sticking point.
Reardon said the continuing shutdown could have a larger impact on the IRS, beyond the effects it's having on individual workers.
"I’m worried that highly trained IRS employees will consider quitting so they can get a job that actually comes with a paycheck,” he said. He also worries the shutdown will discourage others from taking IRS jobs in the first place.