Weekly Updates

Happy Labor Day & Other Updates

September 4, 2020
PMA’s National Board wishes each of you a safe, happy, and healthy Labor Day weekend.
Social Security Withholding Deferral for Certain Employees

The big story of the week is the unexpected announcement from the National Finance Center (NFC) letting us know that we would see a portion of our tax withholding deferred per the August 8th Presidential memorandum. NFC issued a release on Friday afternoon and, an hour later, the IRS issued its guidance to taxpayers. The news seems to have caught everyone by surprise, including the Congress. PMA worked closely with 18 senators this week to stress the importance of an opt-in procedure because IRS employees are held to a higher standard than our peers in other agencies with regard to tax compliance. Unaddressed by OMB and Treasury is a possible financial issue for the IRS – how will the IRS pay the enhanced withholding in 2021 if the employee separates in 2020? As an employer, IRS must remit its payroll taxes timely and cannot wait for separated employees to satisfy payment plans. Without an appropriation, we may have that negatively impact our payroll budgets in FY21 Q2 (particularly as retirements are trending up as compared to last year). We are continuing our advocacy on this matter and believe firmly that this is bad for our membership and our agency.

That said, we want you and your teams to be prepared. The Presidential memorandum directs the Treasury to press for legislation to waive collection of the tax but it is apparent in our discussions with the Congress that there is no substantive support for any such legislation. The IRS announced today that employees will not have a choice and we will participate in the program. We also understand that FERS employees (and a limited group of CSRS) whose gross pay is under $4,000 per pay period (i.e., $104,000 annually) will see the deferral. We strongly advise you to save the increase in your pay to the extent feasible for you and your family. NFC offers the option to have your pay split and deposited into several accounts. You might want to do that so you can draw on the savings in 2021 when the withholding resumes at twice the rate to recapture the uncollected tax.

Would you like to lead a PMA Local Chapter?

PMA’s National Board is looking for members in Colorado, Georgia, and Ohio who are willing to consider serving as chapter president. We’re also always happy to hear from members who’d like to found a local chapter in their area. Local chapters are active around the country and work with local executives, FEBs, and GLCs to promote the interests of management. Chapter presidents also attend national calls quarterly with the National Board. The time commitment is minimal and it’s a great way to improve conditions in your office! If you or someone you know is interested, please reply to our newsletter and we will connect you with resources to get started.

Can your life insurance pay for your long-term care?

To find out, please see the attached article from Wade Guemmer, our financial advisor, and sign up to attend his webinar. Don’t forget that a benefit of your membership is a free review of your complete financial situation, including a comprehensive look at your federal benefits. Click here to contact Wade if you’d like to attend his life insurance presentation!

Become A Member

There’s never been a more important time to become a PMA member. Our voice is becoming louder and our leaders are listening. Through our consultative relationship with IRS HQ, we’ve worked to resolve questions, concerns, and inconsistencies around performance pay, leave administration, professional liability, retirement, safety, and leadership succession to name only a few. We are working diligently to strengthen our existing relationships throughout the IRS and to develop new relationships throughout government and with our sponsors so that we can grow our impact. We do all of this and more for a mere $3.50 per pay period – the best bargain I’ve seen in my career. I ask each of you to encourage your peers in the non-bargaining unit to consider signing up using the attached form. If you know a retiree who would benefit from our advocacy, we offer lifetime memberships to them for a one-time $100 payment. Membership also comes with many benefits such as discounted rates from our sponsors GEICO and FEDS Protection.

No-Cost Professional Development Opportunities

Need help writing your ECQs? Are you a GS-14, GS-15, IR-01, IR-03, or IR-04 employee? Join the Office of Executive Services on September 23 for a writing webinar. Read more

Berrett-Koehler Publishers is hosting a free, virtual summit September 15-22 called Leadership for a Changing World. The fact is that our world is changing – fast. We need to go deeper in our leadership skillset to navigate this moment. The summit features bestselling authors and leadership innovators such as Margie & Ken Blanchard, the world’s foremost experts on Servant Leadership, Peter Block, founder of the stewardship movement, and Mary-Frances Winters, leading authority in anti-racist leadership. The series is very exciting and I look forward to sharpening my skills! To learn more and register, please click here.

The Partnership for Public Service’s annual Customer Experience Summit will be held virtually on October 6th from 9-10:30AM Eastern. This year, IRS’s very own Jim Clifford is one of the panelists! Jim leads the Taxpayer First Act Office as well as our Customer Experience/Service Delivery Modernization Team. The panel will discuss why customer experience is a top priority for their organizations, and the strategies they are using to understand and meet customer needs during the pandemic. Register here.

FEEA Has Masks For Frontline Feds

We still have face coverings available through FEEA. They’re offering to send a cloth face covering to anyone who must return to work in a space with other employees and/or the public. Register here to receive a complimentary face covering. If you would like to place a bulk order of those masks for your team or department, please let me know. Thank you to those managers who’ve reached out to me for bulk orders for their teams!

HCO Updates

Please encourage your teams to take a moment to complete the Climate Pulse Survey each week here: Link to Survey. In the most recent data, we learned that employees are very anxious about the continued state of teleworking during the pandemic. Per the Commissioner’s message, we will remain home for the foreseeable future. We are very fortunate at IRS to be led by many telework-friendly executives! If you’re heading to the office, please be sure to wear an appropriate face covering. As a reminder, face coverings with a exhalation valve or those with a hole for using a straw are unacceptable as they fail to adequately protect those around you.

HCO invites you to attend one of six workshops to learn what actions you’ll need to take in case of a government shutdown resulting from a lapse in appropriations. Six sessions are scheduled for September 21-23, read more.

The 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) and Supplemental Survey for seasonal employees will begin Tuesday, September 15, 2020 and close on October 27, 2020. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will email invitations to employees to take the survey during the week of September 15th. Please convey your support for the FEVS and encourage employees to take the survey.

This year’s health benefits open season will feature new vision and dental insurance options and we also recommend this article to better understand what is an ‘indemnity plan’ under the FEHB. Don’t forget that our new paid parental leave benefit begins on October 1st.

We recommend this article from HCO which helps managers navigate situations where an employee states they’re unable to wear a face covering or they believe they have a qualified medical condition prohibiting them from wearing a face covering. Those situations need to be resolved before the employee enters an IRS facility so be sure to provide those employees with information on how to request a Reasonable Accommodation.

News From Washington

Still no further word on the budget – the Congress assigned members to a conference committee and we continue to wait. Our contacts on the Hill told us to expect a short-term CR and that they don’t foresee a lapse in appropriations. If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that anything is possible. Should a lapse occur, please remember that our backpay is now guaranteed. That was a longstanding issue which was corrected in the aftermath of the 2018-2019 lapse in appropriations.

Weekly updates