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Grassley questions “dubious” claim by IRS that bonus payments to union employees are mandatory

Senator Charles Grassley
Senator Charles Grassley

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has released a March 25 notice from the IRS to the National Treasury Employees Union which says the IRS would be changing the budget for the “bargaining unit award pool.”  Grassley said the March document exposes the IRS’ dubious claim that the bonus payments to union employees are mandatory.

“The IRS has indicated that its ‘legally obligated to abide by the contract,’ yet the IRS put the union on notice three months ago that the budget was reduced, so it’s clear the contract allows the IRS to eliminate the bonuses,” Grassley said.  “It seems that either the IRS’s plans changed or the agency is more than a little mixed up on these payments.  It’s time to get things straightened out by stopping plans for bonus payments in accordance with the agency’s own March decision and the Office of Management and Budget directive to agency heads to stop such payments due to budget sequestration.”

Grassley has worked to determine why the IRS has not stopped plans for bonus to union employees following revelations this month that the IRS has paid out more than $92 million in bonuses during the Obama administration.  Lois Lerner is the director of the IRS division that targeted political groups for scrutiny.  She pled the Fifth to avoid answering questions from Congress and is currently on paid administrative leave.  But, since 2009, she received more than $42,000 in bonuses.  Her tax-exempt division supervisors, Sarah Hall Ingram and Joseph Grant, received more than $103,000 and $84,000 respectively.  Ingram is now the official overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act for the IRS.  Former Acting Commissioner Steven Miller received approximately $100,000 in bonuses since 2009.

An April 4, 2013, directive from the Office of Management and Budget instructs agencies to cease all discretionary bonuses during sequestration.  Grassley wrote to the acting IRS Commissioner earlier this month asking for information about the status of the situation.  His letter is available here.

“The public deserves a full explanation, and I’m working to get it from the IRS,” Grassley said.  “From what we’ve learned, it seems like the IRS is going out of its way to award some $70 million in discretionary bonuses to union members and, again, contrary to the agency’s own notice and instruction from the White House Office of Management and Budget.”

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