IRS' crate of bad apples tend to keep turning up

Feb. 18, 2016
Updated 10:01 a.m.

If you are fired for poor performance or doing something unethical, possibly illegal, what do you think the chances are of getting hired again by the same employer? Such a scenario is practically unthinkable in the private sector, but apparently is fairly common in government.

According to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, of the 7,168 employees rehired by the Internal Revenue Service from Jan. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2013, 824 (11.5 percent) had prior employment issues. Some were rather serious issues, including several cases of fraud.

There were “141 former employees with prior substantiated tax issues, including five who the IRS had found had willfully failed to file their federal tax returns,” the report revealed. “Other substantiated issues from previous IRS employment included unauthorized access to taxpayer information, leave abuse, falsification of official forms, unacceptable performance, misuse of IRS property and off-duty misconduct.”

One employee had “Do Not Rehire” written in his file because he had been absent without leave for a total of 312 hours – about two months of collecting a paycheck for no work.

A number of the bad employees were repeat offenders. In fact, nearly 20 percent those with prior conduct or performance issues had new conduct or performance issues, including unauthorized access to tax account information or tax noncompliance.

Incredibly, “IRS officials stated that prior conduct and performance issues do not play a significant role in deciding the candidates who are best qualified for hiring,” the report noted.

“These individuals got fired for a reason,” Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., wrote in a column for the Daily Caller. “The practice of routinely giving these bad apples a second chance is an insult to every hardworking or job-seeking person in this country. We must end it.” To that end, Sen. Burr has introduced S.2439, the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2016, which would prohibit the agency from rehiring previously fired employees.

It is sad that such a commonsense measure is needed, and it should be expanded to the entire government. It is already next to impossible to fire a government employee, even for cause. Rehiring the worst of the worst and rewarding their past misdeeds is a double slap in the face to taxpayers.