May 1, 2014
U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) today introduced legislation to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from providing performance awards to employees who owe outstanding federal tax debt or who have violated U.S. tax law.
“Given what we know about recent IRS actions -- and the growing discontent with the agency that I hear every day from Kansans -- continuing to award personnel bonuses to employees who have outstanding tax liabilities or have violated the tax laws is outrageous and should be stopped,” Roberts said. “This isn’t a partisan issue – it’s just commonsense. Until the IRS gets back on course, it should not be in the business of awarding bonuses – particularly to its agents who are unable or unwilling to abide by the tax laws they are directed to uphold.”
“The agency directly entrusted with the mission of making sure Americans pay their taxes should not be rewarding its own employees that are delinquent on their own taxes or have broken the law,” said Enzi. “This revelation just shows how out-of-touch this agency is with the real world and it’s a double standard that should anger every tax payer.”
“It is unconscionable that while the American people spent $168 billion complying with the tax code, many of the IRS employees responsible for collecting federal taxes failed to pay their own taxes,” said Thune. “Even worse, these IRS employees actually received bonuses for their subpar performance. Congress has a responsibility to the American taxpayers to ensure we institute a permanent fix to this egregious behavior by moving forward with our common-sense legislation to prevent the IRS from awarding taxpayer-funded bonuses to employees who have failed to pay their taxes or fulfill their responsibilities.”
At issue is the report from the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration on Internal Revenue Service on bonuses awarded to personnel who have violated the tax laws or who have been subject to serious infractions of employee policy.
According to the Inspector General, close to $3 million was awarded to staff with violations on their records, with about half of that amount going to people with tax violations on their record.
Other personnel at the IRS received cash bonuses or other awards despite being cited for drug use, making violent threats, fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits, and misusing government credit cards.
In fact, the report indicates that close to 70 percent of IRS personnel receive some sort of performance reward.
The bill, the “No Bonuses for Delinquent IRS Employees Act” would:
- prohibit the IRS from providing any performance award to any IRS employee who owes an outstanding federal tax debt;
- block any performance award to an employee who has entered into an installment payment plan for an outstanding tax liability until the payment plan has been completed.
Companion legislation, H.R. 4531, has been introduced in the House by Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX).
Roberts, Enzi, and Thune are members of the Senate Committee on Finance. The bill is also cosponsored by Republican Leader, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).