700 contract workers for IRS owe $5.4M in back taxes
WASHINGTON — Nearly 700 employees of Internal Revenue Service contractors owe $5.4 million in back taxes, said a report on Wednesday by the agency's inspector general.
More than half of those workers are supposed to be ineligible to do work for the IRS because they are not enrolled in installment plans to pay the taxes they owe.
Unlike other federal agencies, the IRS requires employees and those who work on agency contracts to comply with federal tax laws. That means they have to file returns on time and either pay all the taxes they owe or enroll in a payment plan.
“Because many contractor employees have access to sensitive IRS systems and facilities, the IRS should address tax noncompliance for these employees in a similar manner as it would for its own employees,” said J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration.
The IRS does a good job of checking compliance when contract workers first start their jobs, the report said. But the agency should do a better job of monitoring whether workers continue to follow tax laws afterward.
The report said the IRS vigorously checks tax compliance among the agency's 90,000 employees. Contract workers should be held to the same standard, the report said.
“The IRS takes tax compliance for taxpayers and those who work for the IRS very seriously,” the IRS said. “For an IRS employee, failure to timely pay one's full federal tax liability is considered misconduct, which may result in discipline or removal.”
“With regards to contractors, the IRS remains committed to working with these employees to help resolve their tax liabilities, and we remain committed to strengthening our policies to ensure that contractor employees are and remain tax compliant,” the IRS said.
The inspector general's office reviewed tax records for nearly 13,600 employees of IRS contractors. Investigators found 691 who owed back taxes as of June 2012, the report said. About 350 of the workers owed back taxes and were not enrolled in a payment plan, for a delinquency rate of 2.6 percent. Those workers owed $2.7 million in back taxes, the report said.
By comparison, the delinquency rate for all federal workers and retirees was 3.2 percent in 2011, according to the IRS statistics. The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest delinquency rate, at 1.1 percent.
Among the general public, 8.2 percent of taxpayers owed delinquent taxes in 2011.
IRS “employees are held to a very strict standard, even in cases of personal hardship. If they fail to file on time or pay their tax debts, they face disciplinary action, including removal,” said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees. “The IRS has the same requirement for contractors, but they are monitored with much less frequency.”
The IRS said it will review cases of delinquent contract workers and take “additional action as necessary.”
The report looked only at employees of IRS contractors. The inspector general is working on a report on back taxes owed by companies that have been awarded IRS contracts.
In 2010, the inspector general reviewed tax records for 135 IRS contractors with contracts of $250,000 or more. At the time, investigators found 20 contractors that owed a total of $5.2 million in delinquent taxes.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Attorney: Ferguson grand jury has reached decision
- Boy with fake gun shot by officer dies
- Under pressure, Hagel steps down as Pentagon chief
- Police code of conduct aims to curb unlawful seizures from motorists
- Ohio dairy farmers cashing in on gas well boom
- ‘This is my jail,’ gang chief inside Baltimore detention center declared
- Letter that inspired Beat poet Kerouac discovered
- Panel on Benghazi debunks theories
- 3-mile buffer suggested for grouse breeding, oil and gas drilling
- U.S. releases ‘forever prisoner’ from Gitmo
- Tension, anxiety mount in Ferguson as grand jury ruling awaited