Grassley asking why IRS employees aren’t punished for tax violations

IRS SealFrom Press Release


Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the IRS commissioner to explain how and why the agency uses discretion to avoid terminating employees for willful violations of tax law.

“Willful violation of tax law is a serious offense and the presumption is an employee guilty of the offense shall be terminated,” Grassley wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.  “The Commissioner’s discretion to mitigate the penalty of termination was intended to be a safety valve, not a tool to be used routinely to frustrate the intent of Congress.”

Grassley cited a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) finding that a major portion of employees found to have willfully violated tax law remain employed at the agency and experienced only minor punishments.  The IRS gives discretion to the commissioner on termination in such cases, and Grassley is seeking details on how and when that discretion is used.

“The IRS doesn’t necessarily offer discretion on severe penalties to average citizens found in violation of tax law,” Grassley said.  “There might be a double standard for the IRS’ own employees.”

Grassley is a senior member and former chairman of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over the IRS.

The text of Grassley’s letter is available here.   The inspector general report is available here.