IRS to close for five days: this week in the economy

The IRS will shut its doors to the public for five days in the coming months due to federal budget cuts. IRS closure dates and other news from around the economy this week.

Susan Walsh/AP/File
The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. The IRS will close its offices for five separate days in the coming months, and employees will be furloughed on those days. The closures are a result of federal budget cuts.

The Internal Revenue Service will shut down for five separate days in the coming months, a result of federal budget cuts stemming from the 'sequester.' IRS offices will be closed on May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22, and Aug. 30, and employees will be furloughed on those days.

Additional closure dates in August and September may be added, if deemed financially necessary.

“We came to a decision that balances our primary mission to serve the taxpayers and considers the effect on employees,” IRS acting commissioner Steven Miller wrote in an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News Friday. “We settled on having uniform furlough dates for everyone and closing down agency operations entirely. This way, the IRS can gain additional cost savings on utilities and other services in our work locations.”

Here’s the other news from around the economy this week:

Gold prices took a dive: Gold price saw its biggest single-day loss in 30 years, dropping $140, or nine percent, to $1,361.  That dip came after a five percent fall last Friday.

The per-ounce price of gold has been falling steadily since peaking at $1,900 in August 2011, but the selloff quickened this week.  Credit ratings agency Fitch predicted Friday that gold will continue its steady decline for the next two or three years as investors drop their shares, and that recent economic turmoil in Cyprus had little to do woith the metal’s long-term prospects.

"Reports that Cyprus could sell a significant volume of gold may have triggered the sharp drop in prices, but we believe the fall represents a changing sentiment towards the metal," Fitch said in a press statement Friday.

Jobless claims held steady:  The number of people applying for unemployment benefits increased just slightly last week, rising by 4,000 to 352,000 claims. Reuters characterized the weak uptick as “allaying fears of a major setback in the labor market recovery,” another encouraging sign after a week March jobs report.

“There is still no sign in the claims data that the effects of $85 billion in government budget cuts, known as the ‘sequester’ have started to filter through to the labor market,” Reuters said.

Mortgage rates remained low: The average 30-year mortgage rate dropped four basis points to 3.52 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers’ Association’s weekly survey.  3.31 percent, reached last November, is the index’s record low. 

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