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IRS to ‘partially close’ if government shutdown happens, reversing earlier plans, union says

The IRS is reversing course on its government shutdown plans, according to the National Treasury Employees Union. The IRS, NTEU says, will “partially close” if Congress triggers a lapse in appropriations.

That’s an abrupt change from a week ago, when NTEU said the agency would remain “fully operational” and pay its employees on time, if lawmakers failed to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month.

The IRS told the union last week it expected to keep its doors open, in the event of a shutdown, using roughly $60 billion in multi-year funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to continue normal operations.

Congress approved those funds last year for the IRS to rebuild its workforce and modernize its legacy IT systems over the next decade, after years of budget cuts.

However, in an email update to members sent Thursday, NTEU said the IRS is “severely limited” in its use of funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to keep the agency fully open in the event of government shutdown.

NTEU confirmed to Federal News Network that it sent the email to its members. Federal News Network has reached out to the IRS for comment.

The IRS, according to NTEU, is now updating its contingency plans, based on this new information, to keep some employees on the job, while others would be furloughed.

NTEU wrote that the IRS’s reversal is “disturbing news” to its members and the IRS workforce, and that the union will share additional information as soon it is available.

“We know that this comes as a surprise to employees who fully expected to remain on the job and be paid on time. Our country needs federal employees to remain on the job and federal employees deserve to be paid timely,” NTEU wrote. “We understand that most federal employees live paycheck to paycheck and what this uncertainty means to you and your family. I urge you to prepare for the worst as we all work together to try and prevent a shutdown.”

The IRS, in its government shutdown contingency plan for fiscal 2023, said the Inflation Reduction Act “provided supplemental appropriations available through September 30, 2031, for all IRS appropriations accounts.”

“With this funding the IRS will not experience a lapse in appropriations on October 1, 2022, and normal IRS operations will continue,” the IRS wrote.

Congress has until Sept. 30 to avert a government shutdown, by either passing a comprehensive spending bill for fiscal 2024 or a continuing resolution that temporarily keeps the government funded at current spending levels.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Republican leaders are planning on a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded at current levels through Nov. 1.

But rank-and-file House Republicans remain deeply divided over how to proceed.  The House and Senate meanwhile, are still far from agreeing on a comprehensive spending plan for FY 2024.

“NTEU is urging Congress to get the job done and avoid the pain and anxiety of a government shutdown,” the union told its members.

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