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SHOCKING: Senator says IRS set to pay out $70 million in employee bonuses

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 19th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

While still stung by allegations that they unfairly interrogated right-wing and tea party groups, the Internal revenue Service is now set to award their employees with $70 million in bonuses. This, in spite of an Obama administration directive to cancel discretionary bonuses due to automatic spending cuts enacted this year. GOP Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa says his office has learned that the IRS is executing an agreement with the employees' union to pay the bonuses.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grassley says the bonuses should be canceled under the April directive from the White House budget office.

"The IRS always claims to be short on resources," Grassley said. "But it appears to have $70 million for union bonuses. And it appears to be making an extra effort to give the bonuses despite opportunities to renegotiate with the union and federal instruction to cease discretionary bonuses during sequestration."

The directive was written by Danny Werfel, a former budget official who has since been appointed acting IRS commissioner. While the IRS said it is negotiating with the union over the matter - they didn't dispute Grassley's claim that the bonuses are imminent.

Office of Management and Budget "guidance directs that agencies should not pay discretionary monetary awards at this time, unless legally required," IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge said in a statement.

"IRS is under a legal obligation to comply with its collective bargaining agreement, which specifies the terms by which awards are paid to bargaining-unit employees," Eldridge added, although she would not say whether the IRS believes it is contractually obligated to pay the bonuses.

"In accordance with OMB guidance, the IRS is actively engaged with NTEU on these matters in recognition of our current budgetary constraints," Eldridge said.

IRS officials acknowledged last month that agents had improperly targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.

The agency's inspector general then issued a report shortly afterwards documenting lavish employee conferences during the same time period.

Much of the IRS' top leadership has been replaced since the scandals broke.

Grassley said the IRS notified the employee union on March 25 that it intended to reclaim about $75 million that had been set aside for discretionary employee bonuses. Grassley says his office has learned that the IRS never followed up on the notice. Instead, Grassley said, the IRS negotiated a new agreement with the bargaining unit to pay about $70 million in employee bonuses.

Grassley's office said the information came from a "person with knowledge of IRS budgetary procedures."

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