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$70 Million More Reasons to Hate the IRS

Thursday June 20th, 2013   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 7:18am PDT   •  

Over the last several months, we’ve shared a lot of stories where the people who run federal government agencies are clearly and consistently putting the interests of their bureaucrats ahead of those of the American people. Today’s example, reported by the Associated Press, comes from the scandal-plagued Internal Revenue Service:

The Internal Revenue Service is about to pay $70 million in employee bonuses despite an Obama administration directive to cancel discretionary bonuses because of automatic spending cuts enacted this year, according to a GOP senator.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says his office has learned that the IRS is executing an agreement with the employees’ union on Wednesday to pay the bonuses. Grassley says the bonuses should be canceled under an April directive from the White House budget office.

The directive was written by Danny Werfel, a former budget official who has since been appointed acting IRS commissioner.

“The IRS always claims to be short on resources,” Grassley said. “But it appears to have $70 million for union bonuses. And it appears to be making an extra effort to give the bonuses despite opportunities to renegotiate with the union and federal instruction to cease discretionary bonuses during sequestration.”

Members of the National Treasury Employees Union are the ones who are set to benefit from their IRS managers’ disregard of the White House’s directions. The web site indicates that the NTEU has a total of 82,552 members employed by the federal government. Assuming each works for the IRS, each of these union members would receive a bonus of $847.95.

In reality, the NTEU’s members are spread among several federal agencies – not just the IRS. As a result, the average bonuses that just the IRS employees among the NTEU’s ranks will receive will be larger than this amount.

The Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott puts these latest bonuses for IRS employees into context:

More than $92 million in bonuses averaging $5,500 per employee have been handed out by IRS executives to thousands of the tax agency’s employees since 2009, according to data obtained by The Washington Examiner.

The average annual salary of the employees receiving at least one bonus during the four-year period between 2009 and 2012 was slightly less than $94,000, indicating that the extra tax dollars mostly went to managers and executives eligible for performance-based incentives.

The IRS’s overall workforce includes more than 97,000 employees. According to the data, which the agency provided in response to the newspaper’s Freedom of Information Act request, 16,910 of those named got at least a nominal bonus, including one in Ogden, Utah, who received two cents.

Doing some quick back of the envelope math, as part of the budget sequester, the IRS will be furloughing its employees on five days of this year, including May 24 (making a 4-day weekend with the Memorial Day holiday), June 14 (making a 3-day weekend), July 5 (making a 4-day weekend with the Fourth of July holiday), July 22 (making a 3-day weekend) and August 30 (making a 4-day weekend with the Labor Day holiday).

At the low average bonus estimate of $847.95 per union employee, the bonus would be the equivalent of being compensated at least $21.20 per hour for not doing any work for the American people on these five supposedly “unpaid” days of vacation. Meanwhile, these employees are still being fully paid for the federal holidays, where they wouldn’t be doing any work for the American people in any case. But don’t worry about these poor IRS employees – they will still be getting all their paid vacation days this year.

All in all, this is a pretty good example of how the federal government’s bureaucrats are subverting the interests of the American people. Not to mention the feeble budget-cutting directions of President Obama.

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June 2013