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The Tax Practice of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
The Tax Practice of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

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"Furlough Time, Again"

Posted on in Uncategorized

With the impending automatic budget cuts looming, I cannot help but be reminded of the several threatened government furloughs that impacted me directly during my time working at the IRS. It seemed like every September it was the same old story - scheduled layoffs for all "non-essential" employees, which included basically all of us at the Chief Counsel Office in Chicago. But then, like a snow day that didn’t materialize, Congress stepped in at the last moment with some sort of temporary budget fix that would ensure no interruption in government services.

One year - I think it was 1996 - it actually happened. The District Counsel gathered us 40 attorneys in the large conference room and told us not to report for duty on Monday; the federal government was - really - being shutdown. I looked around at my fellow civil servants and the knowing smile passed over us all, we knew what had to be done to celebrate the impending day(s) off without pay - a party at Steve’s. There’s one in every crowd...

Monday came, and the keg was delivered at 10:00 am. Forty drunken attorneys and paralegals toasting the breakdown of our bureaucracy, playing bridge inside Steve’s tiny condo and croquet outside in the pouring rain, planning a Whirleyball tournament for Tuesday.

But the vacation was short-lived. We were informed Monday evening that the furlough was over, a mere 24 hours later, and we were going to be paid retroactively for the day off. Tuesday, back to work as normal. Bittersweet, to be sure. But a great story to tell my Clinic students about life at the IRS.

So, I’m not sure whether to pray for a sequestration fix, or an impasse for my friends at the IRS. Couldn’t they really use a break from the drudgery right about now?

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