Nobles Law Firm

Report shows IRS employees also lie on their taxes

irs_logoAccording to a report released in mid-April by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), 1,580 of its employees willfully violated tax laws from 2003 through 2013.

You can have a look at the report yourself by pointing your favorite Internet browser to tinyurl.com/n7t3cw4. It would seem, then, that there is some truth to the old adage suggesting that Americans tend to cheat on their taxes. The fact that it seems some IRS agents lie on their tax returns shouldn’t come as a surprise.

And what were those IRS employees doing? Some overstated expenses, claimed credit for first-time home buyers even though they didn’t purchase homes (that’s my favorite thing the report uncovered, by the way) and failed to file returns on time.

So, what happened to those tax cheats who worked for the IRS? According to the report, not as much as one might think – 39 percent resigned, retired or were fired while the remaining 61 percent got lesser penalties such as suspensions or reprimands.

The report also found that penalties slapped on those cheating IRS employees were wildly inconsistent and some individuals that perhaps should have been fired were allowed to keep their jobs.

The problem with all of that is Section 1203 of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 which was passed for the purpose of maintaining the public’s confidence in the agency. And how is that confidence to be maintained? By dismissing employees who commit certain acts of misconduct.

The report, then, raises serious questions as to whether that law was fired as some employees who committed violations defined as significant in the report kept their jobs.

Anyone who has been on the wrong side of the IRS may have a good reason to be irritated by that. Anyone who has missed a filing deadline, got caught misstating anything on a tax form or has had to pay penalties for an understandable oversight might have a problem with the very employees in charge of enforcing tax laws getting slaps on the wrist over major issues with their own returns.

IRS officials have stated that only about 1 percent of its employees have been guilty of violated tax laws and acknowledge that they need to do a better job of punishing those workers. Still, the very fact that over 1,500 IRS employees have cheated on their taxes over the past 10 years just looks bad for the agency, especially when a report points out that some major offenders kept their jobs.

Fortunately, the IRS did release its report identifying some problems and has pledged to fix them. If the IRS truly wants the public to be confident that tax laws are enforced fairly, then the agency had better do its best to clean up its own house.

This column was authored by Ethan C. Nobles and originally appeared in the May 12, 2015, edition of the Daily Record in Little Rock.

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