GOP senators press IRS over bonuses

Republican senators on Tuesday pushed the IRS for answers about how employees delinquent on their taxes got bonuses, and how the agency plans to make sure those sorts of awards aren’t handed in the future. 

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The 11 Republicans on the tax-writing Finance Committee said that an inspector general’s report on the bonuses came at an especially inopportune time for the agency, which remains under fire for its improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups.

Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration found in a report released last month that more than 1,000 employees with tax issues received roughly $1.1 million in bonuses between Oct. 2010 and Dec. 2012. In all, the IRS handed out roughly $2.8 million in bonus money during that span to staffers with conduct issues.

“The public disclosure of these awards at a time when the IRS is under scrutiny for its actions concerning the political activity of conservative social welfare organizations and when its performance of basic taxpayer service functions have materially worsened calls into question the agency’s commitment to the fair enforcement of our tax laws,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was spearheaded by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

The senators ask for, among other things, information on whether the IRS thinks it can reach an agreement with the National Treasury Employees Union to put a stop to those sorts of bonuses in the future.

Koskinen, appearing before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee last week, said that the union had agreed to discuss the issue as they negotiate a new contract. He also noted that IRS employees have a far better record in tax compliance than the public at-large.

Roberts and Enzi, along with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), have introduced legislation targeting the bonuses, as have other groups of lawmakers.