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H.R. 1599 (115th): No Bonuses for Tax Delinquent IRS Employees Act of 2017

It’s Tax Week. Should your money be going to bonuses for IRS employees who don’t even pay their own taxes?

Context

The IRS is the agency tasked with collecting taxes — yet during the past two fiscal years, 26 employees of the IRS who had tax violations themselves nonetheless received financial bonuses.

During that same timeframe, more than $1.7 million in financial bonuses and awards were given to employees of the IRS who had received any form of disciplinary action during the previous year, according to a February reportfrom the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the chief watchdog for the IRS.

What the bill does

With H.R. 1599: No Bonuses for Tax Delinquent IRS Employees Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would no longer be able to give financial bonuses to agency employees who themselves owe back taxes. It also prevents giving extra time off to such employees as well.

The bill was introduced in March 2017 by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX3).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the bill prevents an ill-advised use of funds from tax-paying citizens to tax-avoiding citizens.

“The fact that the IRS has given out bonuses and other rewards to its employees who owe back taxes is disgraceful,” lead sponsor Johnson said in a press release. “The people who are hired to enforce our tax laws should not be delinquent on their own taxes, let along be rewarded bonuses. Even worse, these bonuses are paid for by tax dollars. What has been going on is a slap in the face to law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, and I’m working to end this now.”

What opponents say

Others say the IRS is largely solving these problems on their own, without the need for federal legislation.

As the report notes, the number of IRS employees with tax compliant problems who received financial bonuses is down substantially, from more than 1,100 employees between 2010 and 2012. The report also notes that the IRS denied financial awards to dozens more.

Odds of passage

The bill has attracted 27 House cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a possible vote in the House Ways and Means Committee, where Johnson sits.

Previous versions of the bill in 2015 and in 2014 never received votes, despite receiving more cosponsors that the current version: 33 in 2015 and 51 in 2014.

Last updated Apr 17, 2018. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 17, 2017.


No Bonuses for Tax Delinquent IRS Employees Act of 2017

This bill prohibits the payment of any performance award (including, but not limited to, bonuses, step increases, and time off) to an employee of the Internal Revenue Service who owes an outstanding federal tax debt.