The IRS is the last place someone might think to find a person who would break a tax law, even accidentally, but employees for America’s biggest tax agency are not immune to mistakes, as a recent report shows.
The government conducts tax audits of the people who do tax audits. A recent IRS inspection found that 133 workers had flubbed their own taxes and weren’t caught by the government until now.
Slightly less than half of those IRS employees who were tagged for tax law violations were guilty of filing late returns. None owed money. The annual inspection of the nation’s tax watchdog does occasionally produce workers who do more than forget to staple a W-2 in the right spot.
The IRS dispenses disciplinary measures, including possible termination, to IRS workers with “willful tax compliance problems.” In each of the four years between 2004 and 2008, the IRS uncovered an average of 8,800 of its own workers who failed to file properly. Infractions ranged from late filings and payments to underpayments or no tax payments at all.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is the government department that keeps an eye on the tax returns of the IRS’s 107,000 employees. The inspectors check the tax checkers for noncompliance, which one IRS spokesperson said is a major test of the agency’s integrity.
In 2009, $1 billion in delinquent taxes were owed by 99,000 civilian federal workers. That represents over 3 percent of all federal employees. Less than 1 percent of IRS employees owed back taxes.
Source: Newser, “Inspector general says 133 IRS workers didn’t follow tax law, escaped detection by agency,” Stephen Ohlemacher, 21 June 2011