Gas prices over $5 a gallon are displayed at gas stations in New Jersey on June 7.

Gas prices over $5 a gallon are displayed at gas stations in New Jersey on June 7. Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Request to Raise Gas Reimbursement Rates to Reflect Skyrocketing Prices, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

A federal employee union this week urged the Internal Revenue Service to issue a rare mid-year update to the amount employees are reimbursed for gas when they use their own car for business travel, citing rapidly rising gas prices.

The federal government’s gas reimbursement rate when employees are driving their own car for work purposes is announced by the General Services Administration, but it tracks the IRS’ maximum mileage rate that is allowed to be deducted as a business expense. Last December, the IRS set that rate at 58.5 cents per mile for 2022, an increase of 2.5 cents per mile over the previous year.

But since then, the price of gas has skyrocketed, in part due to general inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a letter Monday, National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon asked IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to take the rare, but not unprecedented, step of issuing a mid-year increase to the reimbursement rates.

“While it is the IRS’ typical practice to set this rate effective at the beginning of the year for the entire calendar year, on past occasions when there have been significant rises in gas prices, the IRS has made a mid-year adjustment,” Reardon wrote. “Given the current situation, I urge you to make a mid-year adjustment to the mileage reimbursement rate this year to reflect the actual costs an employee will pay to operate their privately owned vehicle while traveling to perform official business. This would save federal employees from having to pay out of their own pocket for the increased travel expenses incurred in their duties.”

White House Interns Will Soon Be Paid

The Biden administration announced last week that beginning this fall, White House interns will be paid for their labor, the latest in a wave of actions aimed at making internships in the federal government more equitable and effective at recruiting young federal employees.

College students and recent graduates who are selected for internships at the White House and in the Executive Office of the President for the Fall 2022 term will be paid $750 weekly stipends, which, based on a 40-hour work week, equates to $18.75 an hour—more than the $15 per hour federal government minimum wage implemented by President Biden.

The announcement is the latest in a series of actions intended to rejuvenate internship programs throughout government and to ensure that those internships are paid. Officials have argued that unpaid internships perpetuate inequalities and inhibit efforts to improve diversity in the federal workforce, because students and graduates who can afford to participate in unpaid internships are more likely to be wealthy and white.

Last year, the Office of Personnel Management issued a series of regulations that made it easier for agencies to hire interns and college students to temporary jobs, with the option to convert them to permanent positions once they graduate, and the White House listed internship reform as a priority as part of the fiscal 2023 budget request as part of its effort to revamp the federal hiring process.

The 14-week internship program is open for applications until June 24, and those selected will be notified by August 8.