Barletta Votes to Stop IRS Bonuses, Block Rehire of Bad Employees

Apr 21, 2016
Press Release
Poor Customer Service Addressed, Standard of Conduct Toughened

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today voted for two pieces of legislation designed to improve poor customer service at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and strengthen the standard of conduct among employees of the tax agency.  One bill prohibits the IRS from awarding bonuses to any employee until the agency creates a plan to increase responsiveness to taxpayer needs.  The other blocks the rehiring of former IRS employees who had been fired for misconduct.  Both bills passed the House of Representatives and now head to the Senate for its consideration. 

“The IRS is the federal agency that is most likely to strike terror in the hearts of Americans, and dealing with them is even worse when you can’t get your problems taken care of,” Barletta said.  “Private businesses would never operate the way the IRS does – giving out bonuses for subpar performance and rehiring old employees who had behaved terribly.  In order for taxpayers to have any faith at all in their government, these kinds of practices have got to stop.”

Barletta voted in favor of two bills on the floor of the House of Representatives:

H.R. 4890 – Bill to Limit IRS Bonuses

According to a review by the Government Accountability Office, taxpayers who called the IRS seeking to speak to a live person were successful only 38 percent of the time.  Those who were able to find a representative to speak to were forced to endure average wait times of more than 30 minutes.  The legislation prohibits the IRS from paying bonuses to any employee until it creates and submits to Congress a comprehensive strategy – which it currently does not have – to improve customer service.  It also requires the IRS to submit semiannual reports to Congress on its progress in implementing the strategy.  The bill passed the House by a vote of 260-to-158.

H.R. 3724 – Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act

Incredibly, a 2015 Inspector General’s report found that the IRS frequently rehires former employees who had been previously fired for well-documented poor conduct or substandard performance issues.  In particular, the IRS had rehired 141 former employees who had serious tax delinquency issues, including several who willfully refused to file federal tax returns.  Other misconduct issues of rehired former employees included accessing taxpayer information without authorization and falsification of official forms.

The legislation prohibits the IRS from rehiring former employees who had been terminated for misconduct.  It passed the House by a vote of 345-to-78.

“The people who work at the IRS have got to remember that the very taxpayers they are employed to serve are the ones who are paying their salaries,” Barletta said.  “It just stands to reason that the agency charged with collecting tax dollars ought to do a good job in spending them efficiently and appropriately.”