The IRS announced Thursday it intends to use its recently granted direct-hiring authority for 10,000 employees, starting with 5,000 positions in three service centers for which it will hold "hiring events" this month.
To do so, the Service will hold in-person and virtual "hiring events," in which it will review applicants' résumés and offer jobs to eligible applicants "on the spot," according to a news release. New hires can expect to begin work within 30 to 45 days of a job offer.
Earlier this week, a statement from the National Treasury Employees Union's president, Tony Reardon, stated that the union, which represents IRS and other federal employees, said it had been notified that the IRS has been granted direct-hire authority for about 10,000 positions by the end of 2023 in its submission-processing and accounts-management functions.
In a second news release, the IRS and Treasury said the job events are the first phase of its 10,000-position new authority, with the remaining 5,000 positions to be filled over the next year. In addition, the IRS is shifting 700 personnel in a "surge team," to supplement its surge announced in February, for which about 800 employees have been shifted so far. The Service also is paying overtime to more than 6,000 employees processing original returns and about 10,000 processing amended returns and taxpayer correspondence.
And in a third release, the IRS described recently deployed "chat bots" designed to help with taxpayers who call some of its toll-free telephone lines with general tax questions.
Direct-hiring, which must be approved by the federal Office of Personnel Management, allows agencies to bypass certain preference and rating and ranking requirements when deemed necessary to meet critical needs or when there is a shortage of qualified job candidates. The expedited protocol has been recommended by National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins and others as a way for the IRS to deal with its huge backlog of unprocessed returns and correspondence and to better provide telephone and other service to taxpayers.
The 5,000 new positions announced Thursday will be in the IRS's service processing centers in Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; and Ogden, Utah. No prior tax experience is required, the IRS said. The positions include temporary, term, and permanent jobs. Many of them are entry-level positions in the IRS's Wage and Investment Division.
In-person events at the Kansas City service center are on March 18 and 19, in Austin on March 24 and 25, and in Ogden on March 31 and April 1, with times in the news release.
Virtual events will be March 16 and 23, with registration and other details available at jobs.irs.gov/find-job/irs-events, along with more information about the in-person events.
In all three of the service centers, current employees authorized for overtime "are working night shifts to work on return and correspondence processing," and the IRS is pursuing options of contracting more help in manual operations involving original return processing, the IRS stated in the second release.
The IRS has begun using voice and chat bots on two phone lines that answer taxpayers' simple questions about payments or collection notices. Taxpayers can still talk with a representative. The bots cannot currently provide help with a taxpayer's account, but, later this year, the IRS plans to add that function plus be able to handle more complex issues, the news release stated.
For now, the bots can address how to make one-time payments, provide answers to frequently asked questions, and clarify collection notices.
The AICPA continues to advocate for better IRS services; visit the webpage describing AICPA advocacy efforts to learn more.
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