The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has given out more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees who have recently had disciplinary problems. These payouts include $1 million to workers who have owed back taxes to the federal government, according to a Yahoo! News report on Wednesday. In total, more than 2,800 workers got bonuses even though they were listed as facing disciplinary action the year before the bonus was handed out. Some 1,150 persons owed back taxes the prior year.
J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, made the information public on Tuesday. He reported that the bonuses that were handed out to these persons on the disciplinary block received bonuses for two years. The bonuses were awarded from October of 2010 through December of 2012. The report from George asserts that the bonus program does not actually violate federal regulations. However, it is pointed out that the bonuses being given to person who even owe back taxes is tremendously inconsistent with the Internal Revenue Service’s mission of enforcing the United States’ tax laws.
According to George, 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 by its employees. However, George continued, 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.
A Forbes report on Wednesday asserts that other workers who got bonuses included some who charged with misconduct for misusing government credit cards for travel and for even fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits. Other areas of misconduct among those getting bonuses included drug use and violent threats. In response, the IRS said that it has developed a new policy linking conduct and performance bonuses for executives and senior level employees.
Reportedly, there are no actual government-wide policies on providing bonuses to employees with conduct issues. However, there is a 1998 law on the books which calls for removing IRS employees who are found to have intentionally committed certain acts of misconduct. These acts of misconduct include willful failure to pay federal taxes.
In total, more than 70,000 IRS workers received cash bonuses totaling $92 million the 2011 budget year. Nearly 68,000 workers got cash bonuses totaling $86 million in the following year. During the period from 2010 to 2012, the IRS had approximately 100,000 workers under review. Of those, 3.2 percent of federal workers owed back taxes in 2011.