Jan 23, 2019

Hundreds of IRS employees skip work as tax season looms

IRS employee Donna Orton (C) holds a sign protesting the government shutdown at the James V. Hansen Federal Building in Ogden, Utah. Photo: Natalie Behring/Getty Images

Hundreds of employees at the Internal Revenue Service are being allowed to skip work, citing a "hardship" provision included in their union contract that allows them to call in absent due to financial challenges causing by a government shutdown, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: Just last week, the Trump administration recalled 46,000 of the agency's furloughed workers to process tax refunds without pay. But union officials tell the Post that many workers aren't showing up, which could cause major problems as millions of Americans are expected to begin filing for tax refunds on Jan. 28. Employees who process tax refunds are among the agency's lowest paid, and are likely to miss their second straight paycheck as the shutdown continues into its 33rd day.

Go deeper: All the ways Americans are feeling the effects of the shutdown

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 5,626,047 — Total deaths: 351,815 — Total recoveries — 2,314,233Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 1,684,173 — Total deaths: 99,123 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. Tech: Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next
  5. Business: Boeing to lay off 6,770 more U.S. employees.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Live updates: SpaceX to launch historic crewed mission for NASA

The Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon atop. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX will attempt to launch NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station today.

Why it matters: If all goes well, this launch — expected to happen at 4:33 p.m. ET — will mark the first time a private company has successfully launched people to orbit and the first crewed, orbital rocket launch from the U.S. in 9 years.

Follow along below for live coverage...

Pompeo tells Congress Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday that he has certified to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China and does not warrant special treatment under U.S. law.

Why it matters: Revoking Hong Kong's special status would hasten its economic and financial decline, already set in motion by China's growing political grip on the city. The preferential status that the U.S. has long granted Hong Kong has made the city a top U.S. trading partner.

Go deeper (1 min. read)ArrowUpdated 37 mins ago - World