IRS Workers Return In Ogden; Uncertain About What’s Next
OGDEN, Utah – Thousands of federal workers in Utah have returned to their jobs after a five-week furlough. With the government temporary lifting the shutdown, many still live with the uncertainty of what happens in the next three weeks.
IRS workers in Ogden have gone without a paycheck in more than a month. Their next checks have been scheduled for later this week.
“You can hear a lot more laughter than was there before,” said Sean Beckstead, an IRS employee comparing this Monday with the last few.
He said workers are relieved, but also quite cautious.
“They’ve actually got smiles on their faces,” said Beckstead, a single father of a 12-year-old boy with autism. “Everybody was actually not in a bad mood.”
He worked through the entire shutdown without pay. Beckstead said he and his coworkers were feeling relieved, for now.
“We’re going to get paid,” he said. “Things are going to work out. I don’t got to worry about fuel or whatever else.”
Their paychecks have been scheduled for January 31, with several having rent and other bills due on February 1.
“It’s kind of that relief,” he said. “It’s that big sigh. I’m going to be able to make gas (payments). I’m going to be able to make the house payment.”
“It’s a mixture of happy and hesitant,” said Charlene Salazar, who has worked at the IRS office for 17 years. “Everyone is very happy to be back to work. They are very grateful to get their paychecks, but we’re still not sure what’s going on, and I hope we don’t end up back in this situation soon.”
Salazar said she and her coworkers were eager to take care of a backlog of work.
“For now, it’s just back to business as usual, and we can’t really worry too much about the 15th because we have a lot of work to catch up on,” she said.
Their work and pay are only guaranteed through mid-February, and American taxpayers are already filing returns.
“This is the start of our busy period,” said Salazar.
Salazar said she and her colleagues are thankful for the love and support from the businesses and other generous people in the community who brought them meals, and shared other kinds of support.
“We want to make sure that they know we’re very grateful for their help,” she said.
Beckstead said he learned a valuable lesson during the shutdown. He wants to make sure he has much more than one month of emergency finances if there’s another government shutdown.
“Kind of protect yourself a little bit more, so the stress isn’t there,” he said.
The IRS workers also expected another paycheck before the deadline for congressional negotiations on February 15.
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