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Workers at the Internal Revenue Service offices in Fresno were told that all buildings will close at noon Friday and stay closed until further notice during the coronavirus outbreak.

In an email to IRS employees, Craig Stevens, the senior commissioner’s representative for Fresno, said that employees are expected to work from home or another location if they have the proper technology or when the technology is in place.

Until then, Stevens wrote, “the employee may be granted an equivalent amount of weather and safety leave (i.e., the weather or other safety-related condition could not be reasonably anticipated by the employee, and he/she is unable to perform productive work at the telework site.)”

Tax Return Deadline Pushed Back to July 15

The regional IRS center, which processes tax returns, employs about 5,000 people.

Stevens said that employees should direct questions to their managers.

The shutdown came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the federal income tax filing date had been pushed back from April 15, to July 15.

Workers Cited Unhealthy Conditions

Before the Fresno closure, employees there expressed concerns about working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many of my team members are experiencing heightened anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic being declared a national emergency, with the number of cases rising daily,” an employee who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals for speaking told GV Wire Thursday.

“Many of our friends and family are now quarantined in their homes as society has taken on the practice of social distancing yet we are still required to show up to work. There is zero possibility of social distancing at work. We share desks and equipment, and there is no cleaning or sanitizing of work stations between shifts. Unless an employee brings his or her own sanitizing wipes, the IRS does not provide that.”

The same employee said the building is infested with rats.

“Numerous signs throughout the work areas warn employees not to eat in the work areas due to an active rat problem,” she said. “Just a week ago I heard a lady in another pod screech multiple times, to which my team lead responded, ‘sounds like we have a friend visiting.’ None of us new hires understood what he meant, until he explained that the ‘friend’ was a rat. Needless to say, we were a bit freaked out.”

IRS Employees Elsewhere Sought Closures

On Monday, the website govexec.com reported that the National Treasury Employees Union had “called on the federal government to close all federal buildings across the country that house at least 50 employees, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations to end all large gatherings.”

And, on Wednesday, The Texas Tribune reported that IRS employees “sandwiched in cubicles” in the Austin office, said they were worried about unsafe working conditions in the face of the pandemic.

Noting that many of Austin’s IRS workers were elderly with underlying health issues, one employee said, it was like being “in a nursing home on a cruise ship — the IRS Princess.”

Two Princess Cruises ships experienced COVID-19 outbreaks, prompting Carnival Corporation to suspend operations of the Princess Cruises line of ships on March 12.

26 Responses

  1. Lina

    As an IRS employee falling in one of the 3 Higher risks categories, it was a tough decision to take leave using the “Weather & Safety Act” . But there was confusion everywhere from the Union not being able to give clear cut definitions of what employees could or could not do. Upper management were keeping Mum on what employees options were. The safety of the employees were not thought of. Serving the public was first. I know we are the IRS & serve the public but we are human beings w/families as well… It was hard not feeling the anxiety & severity of this Pandemic as well as being ill prepared.

    Reply
    • Brenda

      Yes well I think you should be back on the job and wear mask and public serves is like doctor and nurses and we can’t live on air and I need my check I made a mistake I need to update my info cause I’ve been out here suffering without a job or home or my family and we need to have a human to help us not these computers that are hack thank you .let’s get back to work American.

      Reply
    • Tanya Wood

      So are tax returns being keep on the desk of who ever in puts that has been received. My return has been in the process status sence March 5Th. And I am a care giver that has to be eating a mask all shift.

      Reply
  2. Anderson

    Yes.. I witnessed no safety practices being implemented in the work environment.. and the last several months… coughing… sneezing.. and close contact still continued

    Reply
  3. Ltanya boling

    I’m still waiting on my income. Tax I need to pay my Bill’s buy food my taxes was held because irs didn’t have any inform about my insurance it was fax and mailed to irs in Fresno before the virus and I have not heard from irs please help me so I can pay bills.thank you .

    Reply
  4. Sadie

    Tax returns are being held in the Fresno PO distribution center as the IRS center is ‘closed”. Who is responsible for retrieving these returns? Total lack of accountability.

    Reply
  5. Dede

    I had to file a paper return it was returned to me and I was told to send in additional papers attached so that was a month ago it’s been way over 21 days how am I supposed to get my refund let alone a stimulus check if the irs is closed and not processing returns

    Reply
  6. Bob

    They are essential employees and many taxpayers need there refund now not months from now. many of us have to continue working in not ideal working conditions risking our health but because at the very least they should have
    reduced numbers of workers.

    Reply
  7. Norman L Boney

    I live in Ohio. I completed my tax return on Mar 7, 2020 and mailed it to IRS, Fresno. I requested my refund status from IRS.Gov and they have no record of it. Can I assume that it was never processed?
    Thank you

    Reply
  8. Jerald Helland

    What is the expectation we will hear something regarding our submitted federal tax filings sent to Fresno, CA? I am sure many people need their tax refund at this difficult time. It would seem prudent to at least scan the returns received to acknowledge receipt to those looking for information, without a response everyone who sent a return to Fresno is in limbo.

    Reply
  9. Leslie Weber

    I live in Wisconsin. I am an essential worker … working in a health clinic with people coughing in my face all day long. Please put on a mask, clean the IRS office and get back to work in a safe atmosphere…. it can be done. If any of us out here [still working] go down with Covid we Will need our money to survive. Please open this office and process our tax returns. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Rowena D. Goree

      I wouldn’t think that it’s would have so many issues and hopefully that they would find a better system to prevent so many errors.

      Reply
  10. Caroline

    Why cant those of us who filed paper now file electronically. Surely they would be able to see duplicate once they start processing. This is ridiculous. Others are working at least some of employees.

    Reply
  11. Susan

    When is the Fresno, CA office going to open? Enough is enough already! Are we going to be paid interest on our refunds that have been sitting idle! We need our money!!

    Reply
  12. Sheila

    I sent my amended return to the Fresno office on Thursday, March 26th from Ohio! I even paid extra to get it there faster. I know they received it the following Tuesday or Wednesday. It would be nice if they would go back to work so people could get their money!! A bunch of other people have gone back to work or have worked through this whole mess!! Makes no sense to have all these returns sitting there piling up and having the people wait for months! It says info is not available until 3 weeks but it’s been about 8 weeks!!! Take precautions if you feel the need to do so otherwise quit whining about being afraid to go back to work & do your job!

    Reply
  13. Janine

    I mailed in my husband’s federal tax return in paper format back on March 7, and the USPS says it was delivered to the Fresno office on March 9 at 5:47am. This was before the office closure and before we were even aware that the offices would close. As of today there is no status reported on his refund. We tried pulling it up online and over the phone and there is no record of it at all. This is extremely frustrating. We don’t know what to do. There is no one at IRS to talk to either, over the phone or in person. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Reply
  14. Bj

    My tax return has been under review. I had to mail my documents to the Fresno branch and that was in march . tried to fax but the line is busy if Amazon workers are still working why not the irs this is real important given the circumstances my family is in due to this man made tragedy.

    Reply
  15. T

    I mailed my amended return the Beginning of March and mine still says that my information is unavailable and I really need my refund

    Reply
  16. Mary

    How many hundreds of thousands of people are in need of financial relief and being held hostage by yet another government inadequacy for finding a solution to a logistics problem? It’s been over two months. Unfortunate that we will not be earning the same interest on our money that the government is earning – while the rest of Fresno is opening up in droves….Which media outlet does it take? Which button has to be pushed? There was no publicized announcement the office was closed while we were mailing our returns.
    “Working from home” is of no assistance if the paperwork is being held at the USPS. The bottleneck must be tremendous by this time. Grease your engines and get this motor running. The American public is relying on our government employees – in all departments.

    Reply
  17. David

    I’ve waited weeks for my 2018 taxes to be processed and of course thats holding up the stimulus fund should I be re-sending to another branch?

    Reply

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