Delinquent IRS staffers rack up bonuses

The Internal Revenue Service handed out more than $1 million in bonuses in recent years to employees delinquent on their own taxes, according to a new federal audit.

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Treasury's inspector general for tax administration found that the IRS gave performance awards to 1,146 employees with tax issues between October 2010 and December 2012.

In addition to the $1.07 million in bonuses, the IRS also gave roughly 10,500 hours of extra time off to those staffers.

Those bonuses were just a fraction of the performance awards that the IRS handed out over that same time span. But Russell George, the tax administration inspector general, said the awards sent out the wrong signal.

“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,” George said in a statement. 

“However, 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."

In all, the IRS gave performance awards to some 2,800 staffers with serious conduct issues, handing out $2.8 million in bonuses and more than 27,000 hours in extra time off. 

Those other conduct issues include misusing travel cards and fraud, and the employees who committed them ranged from general employees to managers. 

For fiscal 2011 and 2012 combined, the IRS gave around $178 million in bonuses and roughly one million hours of extra time off. 

The IRS agreed with the inspector general's recommendation that it consider taking disciplinary issues into account when it gives out bonuses. Right now, the IRS generally doesn't examine those sorts of issues except when considering a permanent pay increase.