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Last week at my other tax blog:
Refund tracking; auditing the rich

What's bugging the IRS? Bed bugs

Warm weather brings out bugs. Although it's still May here in Central Texas, we're overrun by June bugs.

But in Internal Revenue Service facilities, the primary pest apparently is the bed bug.

No jokes about IRS agents sleeping on the job. No jokes period, please.

For the last year or so, several IRS offices have reported bed bug infestations.

Image courtesy MidMos Solutions

Now the agency and the union that represents its workers have reached an agreement on precisely how to handle the pesky critters.

A nine-page Memorandum of Understanding signed late last month by the National Treasury Employees Union and the IRS sets out an official bedbug protocol.

Noting that although the insects are not known to transmit disease, they can cause "a variety of negative physical health, mental health and economic consequences." There's even talk now of a super bed bug.

So the memo details an initiative on bedbug surveillance, notification, education, response and prevention in IRS work spaces.

Tax Update Blog has the memo's full text, but here are some highlights:

Because bed bugs are now prevalent in many metropolitan areas, all IRS employees should be mindful of the potential for exposure to bed bugs during travel, in the office, and at home. IRS communications on bed bugs will periodically provide useful links and reference materials to prevent and address the presence of bed bugs.

The IRS will create and maintain a link on its intranet where employees may find information on the beg bug problem, including a frequently asked questions section. If the FAQs don't cover an employee's concerns, the IRS worker will be able to submit questions and receive responses to them.

If a bed bug presence is suspected in or near a work space, a licensed pest control contractor will be contacted to conduct an inspection and, if needed, treat the area.

To ensure the eradication effort is effective, employees may be asked to pack and remove personal items and stored materials and files. Any employee assistance with removal of items from the workspace will be performed on duty time.

If necessary, during the treatment of a targeted area, employees may be temporarily relocated and in some situations telework arrangements may be offered.

Employees will be granted a reasonable amount of administrative time for treatment of medical issues related to exposure or suspected exposure to bed bugs.

I don't know about y'all, but all this official info about the parasites (the bed bugs, not the tax collectors! OK, I violated the no-joke rule; so sue me.) has made me a little itchy.

And I think I'll go change all my bed linens now, just in case.

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