Lawmakers are continuing to target the Internal Revenue Service with new bills in the wake of news reports that said that senior executives within the agency were targeting conservative groups based on their political beliefs.
Legislation has recently been introduced in the Senate that would give the IRS Commissioner new authority to fire senior executives within the agency who have failed in their performance or committed misconduct.
Known as the Internal Revenue Service Accountability Act of 2015 (S. 2345), the text of the legislation says that the IRS Commissioner “may remove an individual employed in a senior executive position at the Internal Revenue Service from the senior executive position if the Commissioner determines the performance or misconduct of the individual warrants such removal.”
However, the bill also states that this determination made by the IRS Commissioner could result in an agency employee being transferred from an SES position to a General Schedule position “at any grade of the General Schedule for which the individual is qualified and that the Commissioner determines is appropriate.”
The bill is being introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and is co-sponsored by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chuck Grassley (R- IA), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).
The Senators are introducing the bill in response to the recent stories in the media alleging that high level officials within the IRS were targeting conservative groups based on their beliefs. Investigations into the targeting were closed by the Department of Justice in October.
The Senators say that while the IRS Commissioner currently does have the authority to fire high ranking employees for certain forms of misconduct, this authority failed to be used in the political targeting situation.
A press release from Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) describes the need for the bill as follows:
The Administration has claimed that only mismanagement occurred at the IRS and that mismanagement is not a crime and has used this logic to justify its failure to act in the case of Lois Lerner and others who targeted Americans based on their political beliefs. This bill seeks to rectify this problem by giving the Commissioner clear authority to fire employees who fail to meet the standards of conduct and performance we should demand of senior managers at Federal agencies.
The bill would only apply to IRS employees in the Senior Executive Service (SES).
Actionable examples of misconduct include but are not limited to: threatening to audit someone for personal gain, conducting a seizure without approval, assaulting, harassing or violating the civil rights of a taxpayer or a coworker, lying under oath, falsifying or destroying records, concealing information from Congress, underreporting income, and failing to file a tax return on time.
Burr said in a statement:
“IRS employees must be held accountable for misconduct. Under the current policy, high ranking IRS officials can cheat on their taxes, lie to Congress, even threaten to audit people for personal gain – all without risking their six figure government salaries. This misconduct is absolutely unacceptable and I am confident we will put a stop to it.”
Scott was also the author of legislation recently introduced that would end mandatory labor unions at the IRS, something he says was necessary to “end the partisan culture” that exists within the agency.
The House has had its own share of efforts to clamp down on the IRS, one of the most recent examples being introducing a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for acts which lawmakers said violated the public’s trust.