Most federal employees know that the partial government shutdown is in full swing and there is no end in sight. For the most part, there is little federal workers can do but wait and see what happens.
In late August, President Trump announced his plan to freeze the pay of federal civilian employees. Now, in the midst of the partial government shutdown, he has finalized that plan. On Dec. 28, he issued an executive order formalizing the 2019 pay freeze. Federal workers had been slated to receive a nominal 1.9 percent increase in 2019.
Early last month, we discussed how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made what we hoped was an inadvertent change to a certain benefit for federal employees. Under previous law, workers who relocated for their jobs were allowed to deduct reimbursements for certain moving and travel expenses using the Withholding Tax Allowance and Relocation Income Tax Allowance computation. The TCJA removed those reimbursements from the computation while leaving the employee's home sales' excludable tax status unchanged.
There is an apparently unforeseen consequence of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that affects federal employees who have been reassigned. Under previous law, when federal employees relocated for their jobs they could deduct certain travel and moving expenses. Those deductions seem to have been removed by the new tax law. A coalition of federal employee associations hopes they can be reinstated when the Treasury Department and GSA update policies and regulations to comply with the new law.
A Veterans Affairs employee recently appealed his indefinite suspension beyond the Merit Systems Protection Board to the federal courts. Unfortunately for this employee, his appeal was unsuccessful, but federal employees should know that there appeals both within and beyond the MSPB.