Weekly Updates

Tax Deadline & Other Updates

July 10, 2020
July 15th Tax Deadline Approaches

If you took advantage of the extended filing season, please plan to spend this weekend wrapping up your tax returns and making your payments as required. You’ve got until Wednesday to timely file and pay your taxes, or to request an extension of time to file.

A Message from our former Executive Director

As I continue to clean up the files that I have gathered over the years, I came across this article that I wrote back in January 1991.  I think it is very appropriate to send it out as many of you are getting ready to hit the roads for some summer fun after being cooped up for months.  Please take a moment and read this article.  I am here today for one reason only and the article explains it all.  Take care and have a great and safe weekend. – Tom Burger

Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) Delayed to September 14th

The FEVS was delayed again and is now scheduled to kick-off on September 14th (pushed from July 14th) and continue for 6 weeks. A copy of the OPM memo may be found here. The IRS Engagement Office is currently updating the existing FEVS communication plan with the new dates. We will share the updated plan once it becomes available. This delay offers the Service an opportunity to accelerate deployment of the next Climate Pulse survey. IRS Engagement is currently designing a new survey to be administered August 1-31. We will continue to work with IRS HQ and monitor OPM FEVS communications.

PMA In The News

Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in a discussion on the FEDtalk radio program about systemic racism and discrimination in the federal workplace and paths to improving these dynamics. We were joined by Alice Mercer from Blacks in Government (BiG) and Margaret Williams from the Senior Executives Association (SEA). If you’d like to listen, the recording is here and can also be accessed on Apple Podcast and Podcast One (search for ‘FEDtalk’). I look forward to working with Alice and Margaret in the future and I hope to have them come and speak to our Association membership soon.

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.

No-Cost Professional Development Opportunities

Team Results USA is offering free weekly webinars on Wednesdays from 1-2PM Eastern on the Anatomy of Teamwork. The series will feature the latest research from UCLA, Sandia Labs, the University of Arizona, among others on how teams operate. To be a part of this free webinar, from your personal device, click here to register for login credentials.

Take Charge, Inc. is a consultancy with which the IRS contracts to deliver leadership development training. Dr. Ria Hawkins, Take Charge’s President, led the Leading Leaders course I took out in Aurora, Colorado, and we’ve kept in touch over the years. I recommend taking a trip over to her webpage so you can sign up for her Mindful Leadership Updates. Read more

Thank you to those of your who were able to attend yesterday’s presentation on COVID-19 and its impacts on retirement planning. The administrator of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) and Tammy Flanagan of Retire Federal hosted an educational webinar on the FLTCIP exclusively for our members. Several of you have expressed interest in receiving a link to a recording of the presentation and, unfortunately, the sponsor’s recording platform limits it to those who attended. We are working on additional offerings from FedPoint (formerly Long Term Care Partners LLC) as an alternative to the recording. I will share more information once we finalize our plans.

HCO Update

Next week is the final week of Leave Bank Open Season – please be sure to sign up if you’re interested in this important benefit.

FSAFEDS participants have a 60-day limited period that started on July 1, during which certain mid-year changes can be made to their existing elections. During this limited period, enrollees in a 2020 Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA), Limited Expense Health Care Flexible Spending Account (LEX HCFSA), or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) can make a one-time change (increase or decrease) in the amount of their annual election in each of their FSA accounts. Participants, however, cannot receive a refund of allotments already made to an FSA account.

At our weekly call with HCO, we were happy to have Todd Harber, Director of Field Assistance (FA), join the call to walk us through the strategy for resuming limited operations nationwide for our Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC). Todd is charged with implementing a resumption of face-to-face customer service nationwide, amidst the ongoing pandemic. FA operations has resumed in a handful of states and will roll out to additional locations on Monday, with the remaining offices coming online to the public by July 27th, should staffing permit. Like our service centers, FA underwent a deep-clean ahead of any employees returning and will limit staff to every other desk to promote social distancing. FA, with FMSS’s help, has also acquired plexiglass dividers so there is a physical barrier between staff and taxpayers to the extent feasible. TACs will serve only taxpayers who cannot receive service from any other channel, which will help to minimize the number of taxpayers coming through each location. As Todd puts it, FA is the IRS’s “retail operation” and cannot operate remotely in the manner of other face-to-face operations, such as Field Collection or Examination. I want to thank Todd personally for his time yesterday and his ongoing commitment to keeping managers and employees as safe as possible.

On Monday, employees with nonportable duties or those who cannot otherwise telework will be recalled nationwide. Those who can telework will remain doing so, ensuring that in-office populations remain minimal to stop the spread. As your staff return, please let us know about any issues you encounter – especially where safety is a concern. FMSS and HCO have worked very hard to make each POD safe and PMA serves as your direct line to decisionmakers in those functions.

News From Washington

On June 26th, the President signed an Executive Order seeking to modernize and reform the hiring process. The EO has two main objectives: 1. Reduce degree requirements for positions and 2. Eliminate reliance on self-assessment questionnaires. Few positions in our agency require a degree and we don’t anticipate much to change from that perspective. PMA is very enthusiastic about the potential to use more effective assessments in the hiring process and we will advocate for the IRS to lead the way on developing a more effective process. For those of you who are selecting officials, it’s probably a universal experience to receive a BQ list filled with applicants who are not qualified for your vacancy because they incorrectly responded to self-assessment questions (perhaps accidentally but, more often, because applicants are also frustrated and choose the ‘right’ answer knowing we won’t follow up on it), none of which help to forecast the applicant’s future performance. The IRS has an incredible opportunity to innovate the pre-interview process and alleviate burden across management and HCO with this EO. We stand ready to consult and assist the IRS as it navigates this recent development.

The Congress is amidst its July recess, so we continued to see little movement on the legislative front. Back in February, the President made his civilian pay raise recommendation (1% increase) and, as of this writing, House appropriators remain silent on the issue. A draft budget bill under consideration makes no mention of changes to the General Schedule which implies that the President’s proposal will stand. In recent years, Congress has overrode the White House and given more generous pay increases than recommended so I remain cautiously optimistic that we can, along with our coalition partners, make progress here. PMA continues to advocate for management pay and parity with the private sector and will keep you updated with any future developments. Read more

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report which once again demonstrates that it makes good business sense to invest in the Internal Revenue Service. The CBO found that an additional $4 billion per year for the IRS would result in $100 billion in additional revenue collected – a 35% increase over our current funding level. Over a 10-year period, CBO’s most conservative forecast shows this level of investment would reduce deficits by $63 billion. Since I joined the IRS, we’ve lost nearly half of our Revenue Officers and I’m reminded of former Commissioner Koskinen’s quote – “Nobody I know in the private sector says, ‘I think I will take my…accounts receivable arm and starve it for funds and just see how it does.’” PMA advocates tirelessly for additional funding for our agency, particularly for modernization and enforcement. Read more

FEEA Has Masks For Frontline Feds

FEEA is 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 – supplies are limited. If you would like to order a batch of those masks for your team, please let me know.

Weekly updates