Bill coming to block bonuses for IRS workers with unpaid taxes

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) on Wednesday said he plans to introduce a bill to prevent Internal Revenue Service employees who are delinquent on their taxes from receiving bonuses.

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A report this week from the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration found that the IRS had given more than $2.8 million in bonuses and other rewards to workers who had been cited for various types of misconduct, including a failure to pay their taxes.

A Johnson aide said the congressman’s bill would prohibit the IRS from giving bonuses to employees who owe back taxes that are not caused by willful avoidance. The IRS is already required by law to penalize workers who intentionally failed to file tax returns or understate their federal tax liabilities.

The inspector general report said that the IRS generally does not consider whether an employee has tax problems when evaluating bonuses.

The Texas Republican said the IRS demonstrated inconsistency by aggressively pursuing tax cheats while giving bonuses to employees accused of tax fraud.

"The IRS is essentially telling its employees: break the law and we will reward you. That’s just wrong!" Johnson said.

Johnson also said that the bonuses were especially troubling while the IRS is under investigation for applying extra scrutiny to conservative nonprofits applying for tax-exempt status.

"At a time when the IRS is under investigation for targeting Americans based on their beliefs and recent reports revealed IRS workers engaging in political activities on the job, the agency has the audacity to hand out taxpayer dollars to tax cheating employees," Johnson said.