by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week, the Washington Examiner reported on the 1,580 IRS employees who were caught intentionally cheating on their taxes between 2003 and 2014. These are not mere tax delinquents — people who filed honestly but couldn’t afford to send payment in a timely fashion. Rather, these are people who were caught willfully and knowingly breaking the law in order to reduce the amount they would have to send to the IRS — the very agency where they work.
Only about 400 of these tax-cheat tax-collectors were fired. Another 220 resigned or retired before they could be disciplined. As for the other 960 cases, the IRS was able to offer no explanation why they had not been fired, as federal law requires.
Inspector General J. Russell George’s report on the matter notes that “[s]ome employees had significant and sometimes repeated tax noncompliance issues, and a history of other conduct issues,” the report said. “Moreover, management had concluded that the employees were not credible. Nonetheless, the proposed terminations were mitigated by the IRS Commissioner.”
But it gets worse still. Amazingly, 108 of the 960 who were neither fired nor quit the agency actually received promotions, raises, bonuses, or time-off awards shortly after being caught.
The law requiring termination for tax-cheats at the IRS exists for a reason. It is intended to bolster public trust in the agency and in the tax system, which depends heavily on voluntary public compliance. If that compliance were to wane suddenly based on public judgment of IRS conduct, the system could potentially collapse.