A spending bill for the current fiscal year covering the IRS produced by the Senate Appropriations Committee continues several budgetary restrictions and personnel policies of recent years applying only to that agency, blaming the agency itself for their continuation.
The measure for example continues past language requiring that the IRS ensure that its employees comply with the tax law and consider past conduct or performance issues when rehiring persons who worked there previously–which is commonly done to meet workload surges in tax filing season. It cited a recent IG report that found that more than 200 of the more than 2,000 former employees who were hired between January 2015 and March 2016 were previously terminated or separated while under investigation for a substantiated conduct or performance issue.
A report on the bill further criticizes IRS customer service, its plans for migrating more services from in-person delivery to online, its record of protecting taxpayer data, and the scandal over tax-exempt status of organizations with political involvement. Said the report:
“The IRS continues to ignore the impact of its own behavior on the attitudes of taxpayers. When the IRS takes actions that represent a serious breach of the trust of the American people, it undermines taxpayers’ faith in the impartiality of the agency. The self-inflicted damage harms the very credibility that is essential for our voluntary compliance system to function. Americans have lost faith in the institution and it is incumbent upon the agency to regain the trust of the taxpayers.
“Unfortunately there continues to be evidence of a culture that is simply out of touch with taxpayers and their concerns. When the IRS singles out certain groups for disparate treatment it should not be surprised by the lasting impact such actions have on taxpayer attitudes. When the IRS hires employees with past performance or conduct issues, it does nothing to maintain the public trust in tax administration or build confidence in the IRS’s ability to safeguard taxpayer’s rights and privacy. Once again, the IRS management seems to have forgotten that their most important customers are not their own employees. They are the American people.”