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IRS workers called back during furlough as tax season nears

Thousands of IRS workers have been called back to work during furlough as tax season nears, but that won't include many Minnesota employees.

MINNEAPOLIS - Most of the 450 Internal Revenue Service workers in the Twin Cities have not been called back to prepare for tax filing season, a union representative said on Wednesday.

The local IRS employees are among the roughly 42 percent of IRS workers who will remain on the sidelines during the government shutdown, even as a hectic tax season gets underway on Jan. 28. The other 57 percent — totaling about 46,000 employees — will work through the furlough without collecting paychecks until the shutdown ends.

"It's very disappointing and frustrating this isn't being resolved," said Duane Pulford, the second vice president of Minnesota's Chapter 29 of the National Treasury Employees Union. "We need a fix."

Even with short staff, the IRS will process tax returns and has not moved the deadline past April 15. The agency has acknowledged, however, that customer service wait times could be long over the phone. In-person service centers will also remain closed during the shutdown.

Justin Halverson, a partner at Great Waters Financial in Minnetonka, said anyone expecting a refund should file as soon as possible. 

"Get the ball rolling, so that if it's delayed, your check isn't getting delayed, too," Halverson. 

Halverson pointed out that this is a particularly difficult year to have a government shutdown as far as the IRS is concerned, considering the new tax law is taking effect.

"The whole tax code has changed. Higher standard deduction, minimized itemized deduction, changed tax brackets," Halverson said. "A lot of people that have questions and want answers might not be able to get them."

That's why Pulford said he just wants to get back to work. 

His national union has filed two lawsuits against the federal government

"The closer you get to the end of the month, you wonder if more hiccups are going to happen," Pulford said. "This issue needs to be resolved."