Back to Work, But at What Cost?


The IRS is recalling some workers. After largely shutting down its offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency is bringing back as many as 11,000 workers in three states on June 1. The new deadline for tax filing is July 15 and the agency wants to get caught up with a huge backlog of paper tax returns. The IRS has distributed more than 130 million stimulus payments and electronic tax returns are being processed quickly, but millions of refunds claimed on paper returns have been delayed by months.

What happened: IRS workers fell ill, and the agency shut its doors. The Washington Post reports on three IRS service centers that had to close for deep cleaning in the wake of COVID-19 infections among workers. “I don’t think I can think of a word to overstate the negative impact on our mission,” said Chad Hooper, a quality-review manager who is national president of the IRS’s Professional Managers Association. “The backlog of work is incredible.”

A bipartisan bill to create a tax credit to subsidize skills training. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) have designed the credit to help people who lost their jobs in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. They’d get a fully refundable tax credit of up to $4,000 to cover, training expenses  through the end of 2021. The credit would pay for apprenticeships, certificate programs, two- and four-year educational programs, and distance-learning fees.

Governor Greg Abbott: Texas won’t suspend property tax increases, interest, or penalties for 2020. Abbott said no to 10 Democratic US representatives from Texas who asked him to put off the expenses. Abbot kicked the decision to local governments, who “should find ways to reduce the tax burden on Texans.”

Portland, Oregon, residents approve a new tax to fund homeless services. The city will collect a 1 percent income tax from individuals earning over $125,000 annually ($200,000 for couples). Businesses that generate $5 million in annual sales also will pay a 1 percent tax. Prior to the pandemic, analysts estimated the tax would raise $250 million a year to fund homeless services in three counties. They have not yet adjusted their revenue estimates.

Tune in this morning: Webinar on “Responding to Income Shifting by Multinational Corporations.” TPC and the University of North Carolina Tax Center will host a live webinar from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm. Experts in accounting, law, and economics will talk about how profit shifting lowers US taxes paid by multinational companies, the effectiveness of efforts to reduce base erosion, how best to assign profits, how the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development might proceed on these issues, and how COVID-19 might affect multinationals’ activities. Register for the Zoom webinar here.

For the latest tax news, subscribe to the Tax Policy Center’s Daily Deduction. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekdays at 8:00 am (Mondays only when Congress is in recess). We welcome tips on new research or other news. Email Renu Zaretsky at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *