Get a closer look at the support IRS employees have provided to their colleagues, members of their communities and taxpayers across the country. Get to know the IRS, its people and the issues that affect taxpayers By Chuck Rettig CL-21-10, March 18, 2021 Since joining the IRS, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the commitment and compassion of our dedicated workforce. Day in and day out, my colleagues have supported one another as they carry out our important mission and played active roles in their communities to help those in need. So, it’s not surprising that since the COVID-19 virus began spreading across the U.S. in early 2020, IRS employees around the country have found opportunities to continue to provide outstanding service to taxpayers and help their families, friends and members of their community. The COVID-19 situation began during the busy 2020 tax filing season and then in March, the CARES Act was passed, requiring the IRS to issue Economic Impact Payments to tens of millions of Americans. Both of these efforts were huge undertakings that became even more challenging at the end of March 2020, when we issued an evacuation order and closed more than 90% of IRS buildings to protect our workforce and taxpayers. The majority of our employees transitioned to working remotely during this period. This change presented logistical and other challenges for employees who work full-time in an office and did not have telework experience, and also for our employees with disabilities. Immediately, information technology staff and other employees around the country stepped up to help their colleagues make the transition. Managers and employees throughout the country went into offices to collect equipment, supplies and paperwork and scheduled curbside pick-up so their co-workers could get the supplies and documents they needed without coming into the building. In some areas, employees delivered equipment to their colleagues’ homes. Experienced teleworkers held online tutorials to ensure their coworkers could work just as efficiently at home as they did in the office. This work certainly helped our agency conduct business effectively throughout the pandemic. Dedicated Service employees took on extra responsibilities to ensure consistent operations and to serve taxpayers. In the Small Business/Self Employed division, employees took turns going into the office each week to check systems, pull reports, close cases, and process paperwork and mail. When the mailroom couldn’t send certified mail, employees came in and took certified letters to the post office when the mailroom was unable to process any mail. No job was too big or too small. And most recently, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, IRS employees worked quickly to deliver the third round of economic impact payments to millions of Americans in a matter of days. Here are some other examples of the outstanding work our people did in support of each other and taxpayers: Prior to the mandatory office evacuation order, IRS employees in Arizona started a private Facebook page to help each other get supplies, groceries and other essential items. Team members stored items in the office for pick-up to reduce the need for searching for items in stores. An employee in Texas who was already helping his visually impaired co-workers before the COVID-19 outbreak began visiting his colleagues’ homes to help them get set up to work remotely when maximum telework went into effect. This included setting up adaptive technology equipment including Braille keyboards, scanners and Jaws text-reader software. He also provided support on weekends or after work with errands and chores. An IRS sign language interpreter in West Virginia played an instrumental role in accommodating Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees working remotely. Keith supported the implementation of Remote Video Interpreting on laptops to enable them to telework effectively. In one of our Collections divisions, employees created and held a virtual training class on Saba and Skype for some newly hired tax examiners to quickly get them up to speed and ready to perform their duties. IT supported this effort by having the necessary equipment delivered to the new hires. In response to a taxpayer’s request, a South Atlantic area revenue officer received approval to meet in the parking lot at the IRS office in North Carolina, following mask and social distancing policies. The taxpayer wanted to pay a large dollar tax liability, and our employee provided them with a certificate of release for the notice of federal tax lien and instructed the taxpayer to file the release at the courthouse. The taxpayer was very grateful to be able to close on a loan. A supervisory tax examining technician in Philadelphia went into the office to handle various reports, correspondence and other documents that were printed before the building closures. Her prompt attention ensured no automated collections were enacted on taxpayers. With so many individuals without income during this pandemic, the effect of unwarranted collection activities could have negatively affected these taxpayers. A revenue officer in the Midwest helped numerous taxpayers experiencing financial hardships during the pandemic, including some who had family members who had contracted COVID-19. Not only were these families suffering financially, but also physically and mentally. Our employee patiently spoke with families to discuss the IRS relief programs they may qualify for, which gave them a sense of comfort and the strength to focus on their physical and mental needs. Our employees’ dedication during the pandemic went far beyond the workplace. Across the country, they got out their sewing machines and made face masks, donated items to essential employees on the front lines in their communities, organized collection drives for food banks and delivered care packages to seniors in nursing homes to show they weren’t forgotten. An employee in Dayton, Ohio has made more than 1,500 masks to date, and an intrepid husband and wife team used a 3-D printer to make special masks for local law enforcement. Employees also went above and beyond and found creative ways to assist taxpayers despite most of our offices being closed. As mortgage rates dropped, many homeowners wanted to refinance or purchase a home, which required a tax transcript from the IRS. Tax transcripts are also required when applying for a student loan. But early in the pandemic, employees who received and fulfilled transcript requests were required to work from home and unable to fulfill the requests. But once Colorado’s governor lifted the state’s stay at home order, managers from Wage and Investment’s Accounts Management division went into the office to perform the work that had to be done onsite, while their employees continued to safely work from home. The managers developed a process to provide transcripts to taxpayers: when employees working from home received requests from taxpayers for transcripts, the managers would access the transcripts, convert them to an Adobe.pdf format and email them to the managers to print and mail them to the taxpayers. Their can-do attitude provided timely and important assistance to taxpayers. Here is just a small sample of the thoughtful and compassionate support IRS employees have provided in communities around the country: During this summer’s Feds Feed Families Campaign, employees at our Memphis Campus donated a record-breaking 51,800 pounds of food to the Mid-South Food Bank! When an employee in New Jersey heard the call for help from a local food bank for grocery items instead of financial donations, she went shopping, filled a cart with items, and dropped them off. She continued to use money she didn’t spend on gasoline during the pandemic to shop for items for the food bank, and donated hundreds of pounds food and paper products. Employees on Long Island, New York created fundraisers to provide support to hardworking staff at local medical facilities. In Stonybrook, employees raised more than $15,000 in two weeks and provided gift cards to hospital workers to pay for food and drink to keep them fueled during their shifts. The hospital staff enjoyed the much-needed energy boost and support. And in Brookhaven, a resources coordinator conducted a fundraiser to provide hand cream, face wipes and lip balms for nurses at a nearby hospital. More than 1,400 items were distributed to several healthcare and nursing home facilities on Long Island. In Texas, a Taxpayer Advocate Service case advocate planned, executed and successfully completed a mobile blood drive in her community. Thirty-nine units of blood were donated in two days, which would not have been possible without the mobile blood drive bus coming into the neighborhood because of COVID-19 safety regulations. A revenue agent in Seattle who belongs to a car club organized car parades for children who couldn’t have parties during the pandemic to bring some cheer on their special days. He then worked with the car club to conduct food drives to help those in need. In closing, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the extraordinary efforts of someone who has been working closely with me at IRS Headquarters during the pandemic. In December, we had a small, socially distanced, surprise ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dianne Grant joining the IRS. The surprise was relatively easy to set up since Dianne had been working out of IRS HQ every day during 2020. She is heavily engaged in both service and enforcement and has a firm understanding of operations. Dianne has a calm, humble demeanor and a wealth of information about the history of IRS operations and policy. Multiple times a day, like many others, I ask “Have you discussed this with Dianne?” She has long been the proverbial “rock” for those of us who have had the privilege of working alongside her. Dianne, and the other employees who have spent their entire career at the IRS with selfless service, are a tremendous asset to our agency and our nation. THANK YOU for your dedication and selfless service. You continue to make a huge difference for every American! I’ve seen and heard stories that are a testament to the commitment we have for each other, our communities, and the people we serve. I encourage everyone during these difficult times to continue to take a few extra minutes to listen to the stories of others, send a note of encouragement, or cast a nod or a smile in their direction. I’m proud to be on this journey with my dedicated colleagues, and I want everyone to know: Our people make a difference, they care, and they take pride in serving our country. Chuck Rettig IRS Commissioner About the Author Chuck Rettig is the 49th Commissioner of the IRS. As Commissioner, Rettig presides over the nation’s tax system, which collects more than $3.5 trillion in tax revenue each year. This revenue funds most government operations and public services. He manages an agency of about 80,000 employees and a budget of approximately $11 billion. In leading the IRS, Rettig is focused on improving service to the nation’s taxpayers, balancing appropriate enforcement of the nation’s tax laws while respecting taxpayer rights. Related Content Coronavirus Tax Relief Get My Payment Get My Payment Frequently Asked Questions Recovery Rebate Credit Recovery Rebate Credit Frequently Asked Questions IRS EITC in 2021 YouTube Video A Closer Look Read all our posts about a variety of timely issues of interest to taxpayers and the tax community Subscribe The IRS offers several e-News subscriptions on a variety of tax topics. Subscribe to get email alerts when new content is posted.