The Spectacle Blog

Reason #1450986 to Dislike the IRS

By on 4.23.14 | 4:08PM

No one has ever really liked tax collectors—from the days when Jesus walked the earth and rebuked Zacchaeus for exploiting the least of these to the twenty-first century when IRS employees guilty of back-payments on taxes, fraud, and other disciplinary issues get bonuses.

Yes, according to a Treasury Inspector General report, $2.8 million of your tax dollars between 2010-2012 made it into the purses of 2,800 IRS employees who were being punished for misconduct. At least $1 million went to 1,100 people responsible for collecting your taxes who had not paid their own taxes.

If that’s punishment, what do I have to do to get in trouble?

While normal Americans are prosecuted by IRS employees for failing to pay taxes, the people on the inside got checks and over 10,000 hours in paid vacation time. The report adds:

The IRS does not consider tax compliance or other misconduct when issuing performance awards…Government-wide policies do not provide guidance on providing awards to employees with conduct issues.

This sounds a lot like the time the NHS sent me an angry email explaining how humanely they incinerate aborted babies. Yes, I exaggerate, but just because the IRS doesn’t consider bad behavior a disqualifier for taxpayer-funded bonuses does not, by any means, make the practice palatable to the rest of us.

Darrell Issa, head of the House Oversight Committee, has zero patience for this nonsense:

In the private sector, you don’t get bonuses, pay increases and promotions right after you’ve done something wrong, and that’s what’s really wrong with the culture there.

How do they get away with this? The Washington Post reported

The IRS’s contract with the National Treasury Employees Union bars the agency from considering bad conduct when making performance-based awards. As for non-union employees, federal guidelines are silent on the subject.

The IRS said they would look into it, but added that new measures requiring them to link bonuses to employee conduct would need union approval. Funny, that makes it sound like nothing will ever change.

When you have the power to take other people’s money, it’s clearly too hard to resist slipping a little extra in your pocket.

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