Weekly Updates

Disaster Resources, Student Loan Forgiveness, the Debt Ceiling, & More

December 17, 2021
Resources for Victims of the Tornadoes in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Illinois

Contact FEMA online, by using the FEMA mobile app, or by calling 1-800-621-3362 (lines are open 7AM-10PM every day). If you or a federal colleague were impacted by these terrible storms, you may be eligible for direct aid from FEEA.

If you are in emotional distress, you can call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, 24/7, a service of SAMHSA.

Local CBS affiliate KFVS12 has kept a running list of additional resources from free food to laundry services to help finding lost pets and it is updated at least daily.

Help Feds Impacted by Historic Tornado Damage in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Illinois

PMA's official charity, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA), provides direct support to feds and their families during times of crisis. FEEA helps to provide temporary shelter after major natural disasters, grants and loans to help feds meet their expenses, and even tutoring support for school-aged children. Please consider making a gift today.

FEEA is the only independent, national charity for federal employees and by federal employees. All FEEA's programs are made possible by generous individuals and organizational sponsors who donate directly and pledge to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) #11185 each year. CFC runs through January 15th and you can sign up online.

Additional Ways You Can Help Communities Impacted By Tornadoes

-The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, created by Gov. Andy Beshear, is collecting donations for victims in the western portion of the commonwealth. You can purchase Kentucky Strong t-shirts and 100% of the profits go to this relief fund.

-WaterStep is a Kentucky-based non-profit providing clean water to first responders and survivors, and in need of your support.

-If you would like to donate toys for children, the Western Kentucky Toy Drive is accepting specific donations through Saturday.

-To help with all of the displaced pets, the Humane Society Animal Rescue & Response Team is in need of support.

Legislative News

Congress has slowly been making progress on pending legislation. This week, the debt ceiling was increased by $2.5 trillion, which should be adequate to meet the Treasury's borrowing needs through FY22. We continue to wait for the Senate to act on the Build Back Better legislation, which will provide the IRS with historic levels of new funding if passed.

The House passed the Protecting Our Democracy Act, a PMA-endorsed bill which will protect federal civil servants, bolster agency watchdog programs, and limit temporary appointments to federal positions. The bill also strengthens enforcement mechanisms under the Hatch Act, provides inspectors general protection from undue political influence, and creates an OMB IG for the first time. The bill will better protect whistleblowers from retaliatory investigations, reauthorizes and expands the MSPB, and codifies President Biden's repeal of the Schedule F executive order. We look now to our allies in the Senate to get this important bill passed into law.

The IRS was in the news this week after 99 House members sent a letter to Commissioner Rettig expressing their "serious doubts" that the agency is prepared for the 2022 tax season. We know that PMA members have worked tirelessly, and often thanklessly, throughout this pandemic to keep the IRS functioning while delivering nearly a half trillion economic stimulus checks to Americans. We are engaging our partners in the House to explain why their inaction on the IRS FY22 budget and their continued resistance to passing the Build Back Better Act - a bill which contains nearly $80 billion in funding to enhance IRS operations and replenish its resources - are the primary stumbling blocks facing the IRS in the coming year. PMA will continue to push back on these unfair and misleading characterizations while respectfully making the case for stable funding and urgent modernization.

PMA Scholarship Season is Now

PMA's 2022-23 merit scholarship program application period is underway. Students can start an application anytime and must submit no later than our deadline: Thursday, March 24, 2022, at 3:00pm Eastern. PMA awards ten $2,000 scholarships annually and we are proud to do so for another school year.

The PMA National Board expanded our scholarship program's eligibility for the first time to include grandchildren of eligible members. Eligible students are PMA members, PMA members' spouses, and their children, step-children, or grandchildren. Students who are children may be high school seniors or already in college and must be under age 25 and unmarried. All students must have an unweighted, cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher; be in or entering a degree-granting program at an accredited institution; be a full-time student (only PMA members may be part-time); and, PMA member sponsors must have at least 3 years of service by the application deadline.

For complete program information, downloadable program instructions, and a link to the application, please visit PMA's official charity and scholarship partner FEEA, www.feea.org/scholarships.

Biden Signs EO to Streamline Public Service Loan Forgiveness

On Monday, the President signed a sweeping executive order aimed at improving federal agencies’ customer service, including the service federal employees receive from their student loan providers. In a factsheet accompanying the order, the White House said under the order, student loan borrowers will need to only navigate a single web portal to manage their loans and repayment, and promised that Public Service Loan Forgiveness applicants “will be able to apply for the program with less paperwork than currently and without having to fill out forms with information they have already provided to the federal government previously.

The executive order comes after the Education Department announced its own plans in October to overhaul the loan forgiveness program to make it easier to use. The department is offering a waiver to its rules between now and October 31st, to allow potential enrollees to consolidate their loans into the correct Direct Loan program, and will apply that waiver to prior payments that previously had not qualified under the original rules.

Boosters Recommended as Best Defense Against Omicron Variant

While we are all still learning about the impact of the new omicron variant, we have the tools to fight it. According to our colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control, vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Scientists are currently investigating omicron, including how protected fully vaccinated people will be against infection, hospitalization, and death. CDC recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. CDC recommends that everyone ages 18 years and older should get a booster shot at least two months after their initial J&J/Janssen vaccine or six months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

Masks offer protection against all variants. CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status. CDC provides advice about masks for people who want to learn more about what type of mask is right for them depending on their circumstances.

To find a vaccine appointment near you, visit www.vaccines.gov or www.vacunas.gov.

Most Retirees Must Take RMDs By December 31st

The IRS issued a reminder to retirement plan participants and IRA owners that most retirees must take their required minimum distributions (RMDs) by December 31, 2021.

Under the SECURE Act, the age by which a retirement plan account owner must take an RMD is 72. However, if the retirement plan account is an IRA or the account owner is a 5% owner of the business sponsoring the retirement plan, the RMDs must begin once the account holder is age 72, even if that individual is still working.

Under the CARES Act, individuals who reached age 70½ in 2019 (whose 70th birthday was June 30, 2019 or earlier) did not have to take an RMD for 2020. An IRA owner or beneficiary who received an RMD in 2020 had the option of returning it to their account or other qualified plan to avoid paying taxes on that distribution. A 2020 RMD that qualified as a coronavirus-related distribution may be repaid over a 3-year period or have the taxes due on the distribution spread over three years. A 2020 withdrawal from an inherited IRA could not be repaid to the inherited IRA but may be spread over three years for income inclusion.

Under the CARES Act, individuals who reached age 70½ in 2019 did not have to take an RMD for 2020, but must take one by Dec. 31, 2021. The first RMD for individuals who reach 72 in 2021 (and whose 70th birthday was July 1, 2019 or later) is due by April 1, 2022.

Last Chance for Use-or-Lose Donations

The annual leave carryover limit was increased in 2020 but only for the one year. As we transition from 2021 to 2022, the annual leave carryover limits will return to their normal amount (240 hours for most workers). If you are at risk of losing leave, please consider making a donation to colleagues in need.

PMA Member Dues Changing for 2022

In November, we announced that the PMA National Board voted to adopt a small increase in dues for 2022. You will see dues increase by $1 per pay period, beginning in Pay Period 1. We've been proud of our ability to keep dues affordably priced at just $3.50 per pay period for more than 10 years and we now need to adjust dues to account for inflation. We hope you will understand. At the same time, we want your PMA membership to be more valuable to you than ever and we've taken steps to modernize our association this year and to increase our impact both within the IRS and on Capitol Hill.

In addition to the benefits you've long enjoyed, this year we launched our new website and member portal, we debuted our new grassroots legislative engagement tool, and we expanded our very popular scholarship program to include members' grandchildren. We also formed new relationships with WAEPA to help members find an affordable alternative to FEGLI and with American Benefits Exchange to help members make the most of their federal benefits. Soon, we will launch an academic partnership which will provide access to affordable undergraduate and graduate education to all our members and their families. Behind the scenes, we've been working tirelessly to improve our databases and records systems so that PMA can be an association for the 21st century. We are incredibly proud of our new consultative agreement with the IRS, formalizing our relationship with our agency for the first time in our 40-year history of advocacy. We've also become more engaged in Washington and tell your story everyday to legislators and their staffs in our quest to secure badly needed resources for our agency. We still have more to do but we wanted to highlight what we've been able to accomplish in 2021.

PMA is the only membership association dedicated exclusively to the Internal Revenue Service. Our National Board and Chapters are led by current, active IRS leaders and PMA's Executive Director is himself a former IRS manager. We know how challenging it can be to lead within the Service and we are proud to serve you. We also work hard for you in retirement and encourage you, or anyone you know, to consider purchasing a lifetime membership. Lifetime memberships are available to retirees for a one-time payment of $100 through December 31st. In January, we will continue to offer lifetime memberships for $125.

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