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A new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) says that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has increased the risk of fraud and abuse within its own workforce by rehiring hundreds of employees with previous substantiated conduct and performance issues.
TIGTA found that 10 percent of former employees that the IRS rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 had been previously terminated or separated from the IRS while under investigation for a substantiated conduct or performance issue. This amounted to over 200 of more than 2,000 former employees rehired in that period.
Of this number, 86 had left the IRS while under investigation for absences and leave, workplace disruption, or failure to follow instructions. Four had been terminated or resigned for wilfully failing to properly file their federal tax returns, and four had left while under investigation for unauthorized access of taxpayer information.
27 of the former employees rehired had not disclosed a prior termination or conviction on their application.
TIGTA said that the IRS had not effectively updated its policies to consider prior IRS conduct and performance issues. Past employment history is not provided to the selecting officials to consider during the hiring process, which the IRS said would be cost prohibitive.
"Rehiring hundreds of employees with a track record of substantiated conduct and performance issues, including willful tax noncompliance and unauthorized access to tax records, is not prudent and unnecessarily increases the risk of internal fraud and abuse," said TIGTA. "Given the threat of identity theft and the amount of sensitive information that the IRS manages, job offers should only be extended to applicants of great integrity."
The IRS agreed with the recommendations made by TIGTA to correct the issue and said that it planned to implement corrective actions.
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