IRS: Bad to the Bonus
Whoever said "cheaters never prosper" obviously didn't work at the IRS! There, it seems employees do a great job of collecting everyone's taxes but their own. As if Americans needed another reason to seethe over the agency, government officials are pulling the curtain back on even more corruption.
The latest bombshell comes courtesy of the Department's Inspector General, who is exposing the IRS for doling outalmost $3 million in bonuses to employees with "disciplinary issues" that span everything from fraud and abusing agency credit cards to owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. (Apparently, the agency was too busy targeting conservatives to trouble with their own tax returns.) "Employees' tax problems," the Inspector General writes, "included 'willful understatement of tax liabilities over multiple tax years, late payment of tax liabilities, and underreporting of income."
But, as Americans have come to understand, wrongdoing isn't just condoned in this administration -- it's rewarded! Despite their transgressions, more than 1,140 of these negligent workers split $1 million in cash awards and another 10,582 hours of paid leave. Sixty-nine of them even "earned" permanent raises! Meanwhile, under the crushing economic policies of the Obama administration, most law-abiding Americans would be happy just to have jobs, let alone bonuses.
While the country's blood boils, the harsh reality is this: what do we expect? This is, after all, the same administration that put a serial tax evader in charge of enforcing the country's tax policy. And Timothy Geithner wasn't the only one. President Obama nominated at least three agency heads with a history of IRS troubles. Clearly, he didn't mind putting billions of our tax dollars in the hands of people who couldn't be bothered to pay their own. Unfortunately, this administration has never insisted that the government live by the same rules it imposes on others.
Still, insists the IRS's chief officer of Human Capital, "We take seriously our unique role as this nation's tax administrator, and we will strive to implement a policy that protects the integrity of the tax administration system and the reputation of the service." It's time to prove it -- not just by holding the IRS accountable but everyone in the administration responsible for this pervasive problem of lawlessness. Until then, government credibility (which is dangerously close to an oxymoron) will continue to tank.
Is it any wonder that Washington is a magnet for dishonesty? Just last November, the Los Angeles Times ran an interesting story about college students with a history of cheating. Based on Harvard's research, college cheaters are more likely to want government jobs. "If people have the view that jobs in government are corrupt, people who are honest might not want to get into that system," said Harvard's Rema Hanna. "Overall," she explained, "we find that dishonest individuals... prefer to enter government service." Well, if the IRS is any indication, those cheaters will have plenty of competition!