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Spanberger to IRS: Resume Customer Service Operations via Telework, Provide Central Virginia Taxpayers with the Rebate Checks They Were Promised

The Congresswoman is Leading a Multi-Member Effort Calling on the IRS to Explain its Lack of Telework Capabilities for its Customer Service Employees, Especially Amid High Demand for Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Henrico, May 7, 2020

HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger is leading an effort calling on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide additional information on the status of economic impact payments to taxpayers in Central Virginia and across the country, as well as to provide answers about the unacceptable lack of customer service resources available to Americans looking for answers about their payment status.

Following the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, millions of Americans have received economic impact payments. However, while the IRS’ Get My Payment tool was created to provide timely information on the status of these payments, this tool has been an unhelpful and unusable resource for many Americans. Unfortunately, there is no additional resource for those individuals receiving no information from the Get My Payment tool, as the IRS has not instituted teleworking operations for its customer service representatives since the coronavirus pandemic began.

In a letter sent to IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig, Spanberger led 10 of her colleagues in outlining this problem and asking the IRS to provide its rationale for the lack of telework operations.

“Although the Get My Payment tool was created to provide information on the status of these economic impact payments, this tool has been an unusable resource for many of our constituents,” said Spanberger and her colleagues. “Moreover, taxpayers experiencing problems with this tool are not able to call and talk to IRS customer service representatives about any of the issues they are experiencing. IRS phone lines supported by customer service representatives are not staffed at this time, as these workers have been asked to stay home.”

Additionally, Spanberger and her colleagues called on the IRS to share information to Congress about any obstacles it’s facing in expanding telework capabilities, particularly for its customer service representatives. Spanberger and her colleagues also called on the IRS to provide its plan for addressing the growing backlog of work that has piled up for its employees.

“Protecting workers by not having them report to their offices is entirely appropriate and acceptable. However, the inability of a U.S. Federal Agency to coordinate call center telework for customer service representatives is not,” the letter continues. “We call on the IRS to share information to Congress as to the obstacles they are facing in facilitating telework, particularly for customer service representatives. If this inability to engage in telework is an active choice, we ask the agency to provide their rationale for this choice. We also call on the IRS to provide their plan to address the building backlog of work that is not being done due to the inability to telework, including the processing of taxes filed on paper and the distribution of tax refunds.”

Spanberger’s letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Luis Correa (D-CA-46), Jim Costa (D-CA-16), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), Elaine G. Luria (D-VA-02), Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX-15), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA-02), Ed Case (D-HI-01), and Darren Soto (D-FL-09).

Click here to read the Spanberger-led letter, and the full letter text is below.

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Dear Commissioner Rettig,

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, millions of families across the country are experiencing financial hardship and uncertainty. The economic impacts of this crisis are wide-ranging and have been felt in every community across the United States. To address this need and provide some financial relief, Congress passed and the President signed the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This legislation created a one-time economic impact, or stimulus, payment to eligible recipients.

Beginning in April, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began delivering these checks to eligible recipients. While we appreciate that millions of checks have already been delivered, we also recognize that there are also millions of taxpayers still in need who are still waiting on these economic lifelines. Many of these taxpayers are also still waiting on information about the status of their payment. We understand that delivering millions of these economic impact payments is a monumental effort. However, an inability to provide people with information about the status of their payment—information that could help these families plan for and survive this crisis—is unacceptable.

Although the Get My Payment tool was created to provide information on the status of these economic impact payments, this tool has been an unusable resource for many of our constituents. Moreover, taxpayers experiencing problems with this tool are not able to call and talk to IRS customer service representatives about any of the issues they are experiencing. IRS phone lines supported by customer service representatives are not staffed at this time, as these workers have been asked to stay home.

Protecting workers by not having them report to their offices is entirely appropriate and acceptable. However, the inability of a U.S. Federal Agency to coordinate call center telework for customer service representatives is not. We call on the IRS to share information to Congress as to the obstacles they are facing in facilitating telework, particularly for customer service representatives. If this inability to engage in telework is an active choice, we ask the agency to provide their rationale for this choice. We also call on the IRS to provide their plan to address the building backlog of work that is not being done due to the inability to telework, including the processing of taxes filed on paper and the distribution of tax refunds.

As a lifeline for our country’s taxpayers, these economic impact payments are critical to the financial wellbeing of families across the United States. Taxpayers need accurate, current information about the status of these payments—both to address any issues causing a delay and to organize their financial planning accordingly. The lack of any information that millions of

American taxpayers are currently experiencing increases hardship and uncertainty at a time when Americans are struggling most.

Thank you, Commissioner Rettig, for your attention to this critical matter, and for the IRS’ work to address the economic impacts of this pandemic. Your swift action on this issue will help alleviate the concerns of taxpayers across our country.

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