Weekly Updates

The Next Pandemic Economic Stimulus Bill & Other Updates

March 5, 2021
PMA Updates

This week was a busy one for our Association! We met with our Association Leadership Committee - a group composed of PMA's Board, ED, and PMA's Chapter Presidents. During the call, we talked through PMA's modernization and plans for 2021. We also heard from our chapters about the good work they're doing to keep our members engaged. We plan to provide additional tools to our chapters and members to help gather feedback, learn more about issues in your area, and focus our work so we are serving you well. We received great feedback on ways we can improve our website and we will launch a new one later this year. We also hope to provide additional leadership development support to our members so that PMA can give you access to tools you can't find anywhere else. Our Board also met for its monthly meeting where we heard from our Government Affairs and Communications liaisons. We are working to finalize our legislative and policy agendas so we can empower them to take our message to Congress and advance our priorities. For the balance of our meeting, our Board of Directors approved a budget modification to cover our one-time modernization costs and to deepen our relationship with our legal partners at Shaw, Bransford, & Roth. As your voice in public service, we continue to find new ways to amplify your voice in DC.

PMA Scholarship Deadline Less Than Three Weeks Away

For the 2021-22 academic year, PMA continues to offer ten $2,000 scholarships through our official charity, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. As a further benefit, FEEA's common application makes it easy to compete for more than 200 awards valued between $1,000 and $7,500. Be sure to apply no later than March 25th at 3PM Eastern (there are no extensions available to this deadline for any reason so please don't wait for the last minute!). Not a PMA member? Use the attached form to sign up today!

We are also seeking volunteers to serve as readers for this scholarship cycle. Readers review and score 30-40 applications in April or May, with a total time commitment under six hours over two or three weeks. This is performed virtually through an online portal. If you or someone you know is willing to volunteer for FEEA in this capacity, please follow the directions in this link to express interest. Readers need not be Federal employees - this is a great opportunity for anyone you know looking for an easy way to help!

News From Washington

The conversation in DC is focused on the next pandemic economic stimulus bill. The Senate is debating the $1.9 trillion bill at this very moment and we anticipate it will pass eventually, though in an amended form. This will result in $1,400 additional EIP for a smaller population of taxpayers than previously covered in other bills.

The House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government held hearings ahead of the FY22 appropriations process. Commissioner Rettig testified before the committee last week and it ranged from IRS oversight to funding. We are eager to support the Commissioner in this work - we too see the value of multi-year budgeting and think the Congress can make legislative changes that would ease the burden on the IRS so we can focus our dollars on our mission. One example is how much time, effort, and expense our field offices incur to handle large cash payments due to cannabis legalization. That sector is largely unable to participate in the banking system so the burden falls on our walk-in offices to process these payments.

PMA is working with Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17) on his Stop CHEATERS Act. This bill has the potential to be an incredible win for IRS budgeting, with committed funds for enforcement, taxpayer service, and IT modernization. The bill would fund those priorities by closing the tax gap with very ambitious audit goals, such as 95% of all corporations with at least $20 billion in assets. We are always pleased to work with representatives who see the IRS's valuable return on investment. At the same time, we want to help the Congress understand that they need to make a large investment upfront for ideas like this to be feasible. We think this legislation is a great way to support our Commissioner's vision for our future.

OPM issued guidance today on implementing EO14003 - Protecting the Federal Workforce. This EO rescinded the prior administration's orders impacting the workforce and bargaining rights. PMA was invited to a briefing on this next week with OPM so we will have more information forthcoming.

PMA was also invited to support the administration in operationalizing EO13985 - Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities. FEW, BIG, and PMA will talk more about this next week and our team has time set aside to discuss this initiative with key staff at OPM. We're grateful to the EPA for reaching out to our Association and giving us an opportunity to help.

News at the IRS

If you'd like to learn more about the tax law changes for this year, Media & Publications is hosting a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, March 9th, at 1PM Eastern time. Read more

PMA is pleased to see the IRS's request to grant administrative leave for COVID-19 vaccinations was approved. We've been working hard this year to get OPM to issue guidance to agencies and it paid off! All workers, managers and employees alike, can use up to four hours of administrative time for each dose of the vaccine (up to two doses). In other words, it can be up to a total of eight hours, four for each dose. The IRS is not requiring documentation for this (so please don't ask your teams for any). The leave will be available beginning in Pay Period 6 and, for those who were fortunate enough to be vaccinated already, it is not able to be applied retroactively. The IRS doesn't want work or low leave balances to stand in the way of you getting your shot once you're able to do so. Please be sure to keep that in mind when reviewing requests - the spirit of this policy is to minimize any workplace barriers to obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine. Read more

We also recommend taking time to review these updated leave policies. Again, please remember that these flexibilities are available to all IRS workers, not just BU employees. IRS leaders and other NBU folks should be afforded the same flexibilities. We continue to hear from our members that their requests are being denied because they are not in a union and each time it happens HCO confirms that these policies apply to the entire workforce. Please share this message with anyone who may be getting it wrong - PMA is all about enhancing management so we get it right every time! If you aren't a member yet, there's information later in this message to help you get signed up so you can receive these update messages.

For those of you who are back in the office or in the office occasionally, please remember that masks are required at all times in all federal spaces. This order was issued by President Biden on January 20th and is a change from our previous policies. We are supporting the IRS by working with OPM to receive clarification for situations where someone may be working alone in a fully enclosed office, with their door closed. The way the EO is worded, it seems that masks are required in those situations but some feel this interpretation may be overly rigid. While that's debated, you still must wear your mask in those situations.

The IRS Evacuation Order was extended to September 23, 2021. The leave flexibility for teleworkers with caregiving responsibilities (up to 20 hours of admin a week) was extended to that date as well. The evacuation order can be rescinded at any time, and if that happened so would the leave flexibility as we understand it. As we approach the anniversary of this order, we hope that this is the last time the IRS will need to extend it and that we can begin phasing back into our offices later this year. We're grateful to IRS HCO and for Robin Bailey's leadership in continuing to prioritize safety.

The IRS is seeking weekly input from you and your team through April 5th. Please complete the Climate Pulse Survey weekly to help the IRS respond to issues as they arise.

Help Others Become A PMA Member

There’s never been a more important time to become a PMA member. 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 deepen our relationships throughout the IRS and to develop new relationships throughout the center of 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 – an incredible value. I ask each of you to encourage your peers in the non-bargaining unit to consider signing up using the attached form - please forward this newsletter to one person in your network who might benefit from our advocacy and information. 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 additional benefits such as discounted rates from our sponsors GEICO and FEDS Protection. PMA members participating in a FEHB plan may be able to get free, state-of-the-art hearing aids through our partner Eargo. Just mention PMA and they will waive your copay for most health plans. This benefit is available to anyone in your family using your FEHB plan!

Don't forget to follow PMA on social media! You can forward this email to your personal address to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages. We are working to better leverage these tools so we can keep in touch with each of you. Soon we will debut our Instagram and LinkedIn pages as we continue to work on refreshing our virtual toolkit.

Would you like to lead a PMA Local Chapter?

PMA’s National Board is looking for members throughout the country who are willing to consider serving as chapter president. If you're in Colorado or Georgia, please reach out today! 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 as members of our Association Leadership Committee. The Committee will participate in PMA's modernization project, which is already underway. 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.

On a personal note, today is the anniversary of my last day in the office. I was in DC packing up all of our Association's files ahead of our relocation to the IRS headquarters building. I couldn't have predicted that I'd never have the opportunity to unpack those boxes! Our Board had just started what we were calling "the PMA Road Show" so we could have an opportunity to meet with members throughout the country. We are still so eager to meet with you in person. Until it's safe to do so, I'm continuing talks with different service providers to deliver important and relevant leadership sessions virtually to supplement your experience this year.

Weekly updates