An advocate for taxpayers is calling for guidelines to prevent federal employees from being awarded bonuses if they owe back taxes or have recently been disciplined.
Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union makes the call after this week's news of an inspector general finding the Internal Revenue Service awarded bonuses to employees who owe back taxes and/or have been disciplined.
"This is not the first agency to come under fire for administering performance awards to employees who have discipline issues," notes Sepp. "The General Services Administration had this problem back in 2012. We need to have a comprehensive approach throughout the government to establish solid guidelines to prevent folks who either owe back taxes or have had disciplinary actions taken against them from getting these bonuses."
According to the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, the IRS paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to more than 2,800 employees with disciplinary problems in the previous year, including $1 million to about 1,150 workers who owed back taxes.
While the inspector general's report says the bonus program complied with federal regulations, he did admit that paying bonuses to workers who owe back taxes conflicts with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws. OneNewsNow asked Sepp if this sets a double standard with private citizens who face serious punishment for not paying taxes and IRS employees who do wrong and still get bonuses.
"To the average taxpayer who feels very intimidated by the IRS as is, this will represent another sign that people who work for government are being treated better than the population as a whole – and that's not good for a democratic society like ours," he adds.
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In the very least, Sepp thinks the bonuses – which were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012 – should be used toward paying the tax debt.
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