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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

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
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.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
33 mins ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.