With tax refund season about to get underway, the IRS told the Washington Post that it will bring back roughly 60 percent of its employees to help process returns.
The employees are expected to return to work later this month, even if the federal government shutdown has not ended by then. The affected employees will not be paid for their work until Congress passes an appropriations bill.
The federal government shutdown is officially the longest in US history, having started 24 days ago.
The IRS had a skeleton staff, which represented 12 percent of its total workforce for the first few weeks of the shutdown. By the end of the month, nearly 60 percent of IRS employees should be back to work.
The IRS previously announced that tax refunds would be sent out on Jan. 28 despite precedent that refunds are generally not processed during a government shutdown.
The IRS opened its free file program last Friday for taxpayers.
The union that represents many IRS employees said that the administration should not be able to require workers to be recalled unless they're collecting their paychecks.
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,” said National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon. The union represents nearly 70,000 IRS employees.