Unfair share

The IRS that hounds taxpayers isn't so stringent with its own employees

Undecided about whether you pay your “fair share” of taxes?

Then know this: Your tax burden is big enough to give bonuses to Internal Revenue Service employees who don’t pay theirs.

The IRS handed out nearly $1.1 million in bonuses during a two-year period to more than 1,100 employees previously disciplined for not paying taxes, according to a recent audit.

Also found in the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do file: The bonuses were among performance awards given to more than 2,800 agency employees with disciplinary actions, which ranged from written reprimands to multiday suspensions.

For an agency notorious for hounding taxpayers over the smallest mistakes, it appears to set the bar pretty low for its own workers – about two-thirds of the agency’s 98,000 employees received some sort of bonus in fiscal 2012.

That makes working at the IRS much like participating in a preschoolers’ soccer game, where everyone’s a winner.

Understandably, the inspector general’s report has generated bipartisan outrage in Washington. Lawmakers are calling for policies that would discipline workers for failing to pay back taxes and divert any bonus monies toward paying what is owed.

It also has renewed interest in a two-year-old bill by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, that would allow the firing of federal employees seriously delinquent on their taxes, and prohibit the government from hiring anyone with such debt.

Such reforms would only scratch the surface at the famously dysfunctional IRS – but then again, you have to start somewhere.

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