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IRS building in Washington. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

A government watchdog that oversees the IRS told House staffers that it will take between 12 and 18 months for the agency to recover from the government shutdown, as furloughed employees return to work buried in paperwork and behind schedule on training and hiring ahead of tax season, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: The Trump administration ordered 30,000 IRS employees to return to work part way through the 35-day government shutdown, but about 14,000 of them reportedly did not show up. With tax filing season set to begin Jan. 28, the IRS has a backlog of 5 million unanswered pieces of mail and 2,000 recently hired employees who have still yet to be trained, according to the Post.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.