Unpaid IRS employees skipping work could delay your refund

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Internal Revenue Service is recalling about 46,000 of its employees furloughed by the government shutdown, nearly 60 percent of its workforce, to handle tax returns and pay out refunds. The employees won't be paid.

With the official start of the tax filing season coming Jan. 28, the Trump administration has promised that taxpayers owed refunds will be paid on time, despite the disruption in government services caused by the partial shutdown now in its fifth week.

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IRS union leaders said Tuesday that they expect absences to surge and it could hamper the government's ability to process taxpayer refunds on time.

Leaders say some workers will call out in a coordinated protest and others out of financial necessity.

The IRS isn't the only department that has been suffering absences due to the shutdown. U.S. Department of Agriculture meat inspectors have begun to call in sick, Transportation Security Administration sickouts at airports have been rising, and federal law enforcement agencies say the shutdown is increasing stress among agents and affecting investigations.

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The Associated Press also contributed to this report.