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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Internal Revenue Service called roughly 10,000 employees back to work this week, but it is requiring that they provide their own facial masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of play: Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have blasted the plan, issuing a statement saying it's "completely irresponsible and unethical for the IRS to demand those workers obtain their own protective equipment."

  • A memo notes that employees who do not provide their own equipment may be forced to return home.
  • The agency has offered incentive pay to employees who volunteer to return to the agency first. The memo says that workers will be directly ordered to return if they do not volunteer first.

Why it matters: The IRS is currently at the height of its demand season, facing both annual tax returns and the disbursements of the federal government's coronavirus stimulus checks.

Go deeper

Jul 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

The back-to-work puzzle

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

With an unending list of factors to consider — including the safety of air-conditioning systems, the risk of using public transportation, schools' reopening schedules and the needs of high-risk employees — the back-to-work puzzle is getting increasingly difficult to solve.

The big picture: At first, companies were pleasantly surprised at how well telecommuting worked, with many firms — including Twitter — saying they might go remote forever. Now, about four months in, remote work doesn't seem so great anymore.

1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.