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700 IRS workers owe $5.4M in back taxes

WASHINGTON — Nearly 700 employees of Internal Revenue Service contractors owe $5.4 million in back taxes, said a report Wednesday by the agency’s inspector general.

More than half of those workers are supposed to be ineligible to do work for the IRS because they are not enrolled in installment plans to pay the taxes they owe.

Unlike other federal agencies, the IRS requires employees and those who work on agency contracts to comply with federal tax laws. That means they have to file returns on time and either pay all the taxes they owe or enroll in a payment plan.

“Because many contractor employees have access to sensitive IRS systems and facilities, the IRS should address tax noncompliance for these employees in a similar manner as it would for its own employees,” said J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

The IRS does a good job of checking compliance when contract workers first start their jobs, the report said. But the agency should do a better job of monitoring whether workers continue to follow tax laws afterward.

The report said the IRS vigorously checks tax compliance among the agency’s 90,000 employees. Contract workers should be held to the same standard, the report said.

“The IRS takes tax compliance for taxpayers and those who work for the IRS very seriously,” the IRS said in a statement. “For an IRS employee, failure to timely pay one’s full federal tax liability is considered misconduct, which may result in discipline or removal.”

The IRS said it will review cases of delinquent contract workers and take “additional action as necessary.”

Wednesday’s report looked only at employees of IRS contractors. The inspector general’s office is working on a separate report on back taxes owed by companies that have been awarded IRS contracts, which is expected in the next several weeks.

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