The IRS has dropped its plan to close its tax processing center in Austin, Texas, shortly after an IG report that strongly recommended keeping it open in light of the agency’s backlogs and troubles in filling vacancies at facilities that would have received the work.
The IRS also came under pressure from several members of Congress, including Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who represents the area; they had written to the IRS to stop the closure of the center, which is one of the three remaining facilities that process paper tax returns.
“This decision will save jobs in Austin, empower the center to better recruit and keep local talent, and serve taxpayers nationwide by reducing processing delays and more quickly getting taxpayers across the country their rebate checks,” Doggett said.
The NTEU union also praised the action, while adding that the change of plans “will not by itself alleviate the backlog and improve customer service. We still support proposals to increase IRS funding for staffing and modernization and rebuild the agency after 10 years of budget cuts,” it said.
The planned closure was one element of a response to the reduction in the number of returns filed on paper that earlier had resulted in the closing of a center in Fresno, Calif. The IG report stressed the ongoing levels of vacancies and the difficulties in filling positions in the other two remaining centers, in Kansas City and Ogden, for reasons including non-competitive pay and undesirable work schedules. Those sites already have “millions of returns not processed and other account work remaining unworked,” it said.
The IRS earlier had put the closing plan on hold but the IG had strongly recommended dropping it.