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Thumbs down: IRS missteps hardly warrant giving bonuses

Jun. 22, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Washington often seems to be a world unto itself, but no agency is more out of touch than the Internal Revenue Service.

First we learned that the agency was singling out conservative political groups for unfair scrutiny. Then reports of lavish IRS conferences costing the taxpayers millions of dollars surfaced. Finally, this week lawmakers discovered that the agency is about to pay $70 million in bonuses to IRS employees despite the automatic spending cuts affecting almost every other federal agency.

IRS officials say they are obligated to pay the bonuses by union contracts. But officials question whether the agency has really made an effort to negotiate with the union, considering the financial constraints the government is facing.

"The IRS always claims to be short on resources," Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa told The Associated Press. "But it appears to have $70 million for union bonuses. And it appears to be making an extra effort to give the bonuses despite opportunities to renegotiate with the union and federal instruction to cease discretionary bonuses during sequestration."

Hopefully, the administration will make sure the IRS does not move forward with the bonus plan.

But more importantly, Congress needs to take a fresh look at an agency that has a fundamental problem with its mission.

The people of the United States grant the IRS incredible powers to pull money from our pockets. In respect for that authority, its leaders and employees should be shining examples of fairness and fiscal responsibility, not persecuting political groups and booking $1,500-a-night hotel rooms.

No one at the IRS deserves a bonus this year.

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