“IRS Bonus” is probably the next phrase you’ll see to precursor the word “scandal,” following revelations that the tax collection agency paid out approximately $1 million in extras to a total of 1,100 employees, who owed back taxes from October 2010 through December 2012.
J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for the tax administration, authored a report detailing the payouts. The report, first picked up by the Associated Press, came out Tuesday.
In it, the findings also showed that the agency paid out $2.8 million to employees “with recent disciplinary problems” over the same period of time, with more than 2,800 employees receiving in all. The number owing back taxes totaled 1,150.
If you’re angrily doing the math, we’ll save you the trouble. This IRS Bonus amounts to around $869 per person, while the total payout figures average $1,000 per person.
“These awards are designed to recognize and reward IRS employees for a job well done, and that is appropriate, because the IRS should encourage good performance,” George said. “However, while not prohibited, providing awards to employees who have been disciplined for failing to pay federal taxes appears to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration.”
Other cited cases of misconduct by workers receiving the IRS bonus payouts included misusing government credit cards for travel, drug use, violent threats and fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits, the AP noted.
The agency said it has since instituted policies linking conduct and performance bonuses for executives and senior level employees.
“Even without a formal policy in place over the past four years, the IRS has not issued awards to any executives that were subject to a disciplinary action,” the IRS said in a statement. “We are also considering a similar policy for the entire IRS workforce, which would be subject to negotiations with the National Treasury Employees Union.”
The agency said that about 100,000 employees were under review during the period under scrutiny.
The Internal Revenue Service has certainly not been without scandal in the last year. One of the most recent findings, touched on here by The Inquisitr, revealed that the agency had conducted “unconstitutional heightened scrutiny of conservative groups who applied for 501(c)(4) nonprofit status.”
And just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on some emails that revealed former IRS official Lois Lerner talked with Justice Department officials about seeking criminal prosecutions of tax-exempt groups that didn’t fully disclose their political activities.
California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said the emails underscored “the political nature of IRS tea-party targeting, and the extent to which supposed apolitical officials took direction from elected Democrats.”
Issa continued: “These emails are part of an overwhelming body of evidence that political pressure from prominent Democrats led to the targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.”
There’s also this:
The investigation is still pending on the tea party situation, but the bonus reveal should give media types (like us) plenty to talk about until more dirt surfaces.
While it isn’t against the law to give employees a little something extra, one can only imagine how a common taxpayer would be handled by the IRS for owing back taxes and committing some of the acts that earned these employees their IRS bonus.
Do you think there’s anything wrong with how the agency handled these payouts?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]