Sometimes it seems like you only hear the bad news about the Internal Revenue Service: the targeting of the president’s enemies; the padding of union bosses’ hours.
But sometimes the federal tax collector is there to lend a hand.
During 26 of the darkest months of the post-recession, 1,100 persons in the United States had “substantiated Federal tax compliance problems.”
Yet during that same time period, from October 2010 through December 2012, the IRS showed mercy, even charity. It gave those 1,100 people more than $1 million in cash awards, as well as other considerations of value.
The other considerations included 69 workplace promotions and 10,000 hours worth of what California public employees call “air time.”
That is to say: All of those 1,100 were IRS employees.
From Acting Deputy Inspector General for Audit Michael E. McKenney’s Final Audit Report:
Between October 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012, more than 2,800 employees with recent substantiated conduct issues resulting in disciplinary action received more than $2.8 million in monetary awards, more than 27,000 hours in time-off awards, and 175 quality step increases.
Among these, more than 1,100 IRS employees with substantiated Federal tax compliance problems received more than $1 million in cash awards, more than 10,000 hours in time-off awards, and 69 quality step increases within a year after the IRS substantiated their tax compliance problem.
With few exceptions, the IRS does not consider tax compliance or other misconduct when issuing performance awards or most other types of awards. Governmentwide policies do not provide guidance on providing awards to employees with conduct issues. The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 does not specifically mention awards, but does make mandatory the removal of IRS employees who are found to have intentionally committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful failure to pay Federal taxes. Thus, while not specifically prohibited, providing awards to employees with conduct issues, especially those who fail to pay Federal taxes, appears to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration.
WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA recommended that the IRS Human Capital Officer determine the feasibility of implementing a policy requiring management to consider conduct issues resulting in disciplinary actions, especially the nonpayment of taxes, prior to awarding all types of performance and discretionary awards.
The IRS agreed with TIGTA’s recommendation. The Human Capital Officer plans to conduct a study by June 30, 2014, for the implementation of a policy requiring management to consider conduct issues resulting in disciplinary actions prior to awarding all types of performance and discretionary awards.
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If I were the IRS flack I’d say this was the Treasury Department’s way of helping civil servants pay off their debts, like when Willie Nelson gives extra concerts to pay his back taxes; only with the improvement that all taxpayers had to buy tickets, so it’s like nobody was hurt at all.
(I believe that’s literally true, like all good flackery: There is a body of precedent affirming that no taxpayer has standing to sue over misuse of federal revenues.)
Coverage in USA Today, CNNMoney, Washington Post.