Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Monday that the Internal Revenue Service plans to close its Hauppauge office, leaving only one facility to serve Long Island taxpayers.
Under the plan, 42 jobs in tax collections would be transferred to the IRS office in Bethpage by the middle of 2019, with the remaining 86 following in 2022, Schumer said.
Many of the 15,500 people a year who visit the Hauppauge office will experience longer drives and longer wait times in Bethpage, he said.
“We’re here to say no to taxing the patience of Long Islanders,” Schumer said at a news conference in front of the IRS office in Bethpage. “To have 3 million people served by just one office makes no sense.”
The IRS, in a statement, confirmed the first phase of the plan “as part of our ongoing commitment to use taxpayer resources efficiently.” The agency said it has lost 17,000 employees since 2010.
The service said the Taxpayer Assistance Center in Hauppauge, where individuals can have face-to-face meetings with IRS officials, would remain open.
The consolidation would eliminate 15,000 square feet of office space and save about $600,000 a year in rent, according to a strategic facility plan provided by Schumer’s office. Final consolidation will be considered in 2022 when the lease on the Hauppauge site expires, according to the document.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he’d received no official notification of the IRS plans, but would work with Schumer to stop a consolidation.
“It’s a big island. People’s time is valuable . . . It’s important to keep both offices open,” King said in an interview.
In 2012, the IRS consolidated its Riverhead office with Hauppauge to save money. Those driving from the East End already complain about the drive to Hauppauge, Joan Ballantyne, an IRS tax compliance officer at the Hauppauge office, said at the news conference Monday. To have them drive to Bethpage “is a burden to the taxpayers.”
Schumer said the plan would take place “in a matter of months.” He said if the IRS institutes the first phase of the consolidation, it will be harder to stop the complete closing of the Hauppauge office.