Millions in bonuses for the IRS:
Citing the need to boost employee morale, the Internal Revenue Service’s new commissioner said Monday that he will pay out millions of dollars in bonuses to agency employees, reversing a decision his predecessor made to save money amid the sequester budget cuts and other belt-tightening last year. Commissioner John Koskinen said the bonuses are needed to retain and attract good employees in a time of cutbacks.
“The performance award payouts are in recognition of that great work done in very trying circumstances. I firmly believe that this investment in our employees will directly benefit taxpayers and the tax system.” (SPY PAY??)
It’s not clear where IRS officials found the money to pay for the bonuses, given last year’s tight budget. The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents many IRS workers, argued that canceling the bonuses was illegal under the union’s collective-bargaining agreement. The union took the agency to court.
To head off the lawsuit, Mr. Koskinen negotiated the bonuses with NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “The awards are a relatively small amount of money, but they go a long way toward acknowledging the hard work of employees who exceed their performance expectations for the year,” she said. The bonuses will amount to about 1 percent of pay — less than the 1.75 percent rate of previous bonuses.
Agency officials said they would pay $43.4 million to employees represented by labor unions and $19.1 million to other employees, for a total of $62.5 million in bonuses for 2013. They said the amount is lower than the $89.1 million paid out in 2012.
The decision to cancel them last year was not a popular one, and significantly affected employee morale,” said spokeswoman Michelle Ethridge. An internal audit last year found that IRS employee’s deliberately slow-walked applications for tax-exempt status from tea party and conservative groups, and repeatedly asked intrusive questions about those groups’ activities.
Those comments appeared to contradict the White House’s long-standing policy of not commenting on matters still under criminal investigation. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. last week said criminal charges are possible. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Mr. Obama is basing his opinion not on any inside information about that investigation, but on public reports from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which revealed the targeting in May.
RELAX IT’S ONLY YOUR TAX DOLLARS