Thumbs down: IRS shouldn't reward its own tax scofflaws
The public might assume that the Internal Revenue Service has plenty of leverage to make sure its own employees have their federal taxes in order. At the least, logic would dictate, the agency shouldn't reward IRS employees who are behind on their taxes or misstated their taxable income.
But logic apparently does not rule at the IRS.
A report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, says that more than 2,800 IRS workers received bonuses amounting to more than $2.8 million in recent years even though they have had disciplinary problems. Of that total, $1 million went to 1,146 IRS employees who received bonuses within a year of substantiated federal tax compliance problems, including "willful understatement of tax liabilities over multiple tax years, late payment of tax liabilities, and underreporting of income."
In what could be labeled an understatement, George noted that "... providing awards to employees who have been disciplined for failing to pay federal taxes appears to create a conflict with the IRS' charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration."
In response, the IRS said it has created a policy linking conduct and performance bonuses for executives and senior level employees, but doing so far all employees would require negotiations with the union that represents them. The IRS and the union should start talking now, because the current situation is clearly out of kilter. The public can't be confident in the IRS' ability to administer taxes fairly if it can't get its own house in order.
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