Tom Burger has spent his life dedicated to public service. Burger said it started with President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961, when Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
“That stimulated me to look into public service,” Burger said.
As a young man, Burger served as a Marine in the Vietnam War during the Tet Offensive of 1968. After he left the Marines, Burger was still looking to serve. He turned to the federal government.
Burger looked into working at the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Internal Revenue Service, but he ended up at the IRS, where he worked for 37 years. Burger rose to the rank of director of the employment tax. Working for the IRS, Burger helped ensure that the majority of the money that funds the federal government was collected. He was responsible for determining whether citizens received W-2 or 1099 tax forms.
“Basically are you an employee or independent contractor?” Burger said, ”It’s the IRS’s job is to ensure that everybody pays their fair share – no more, no less.”
Listen to Burger’s views on public service.
Take it for what it’s worth, but here’s a data point to start the week: Since fiscal 2011, about 1,268 IRS employees have taken advantage of early retirement and buyout offers. That number amounts to a bit more than 1 percent of the agency’s workforce, which totaled almost 91,000 as of December, according to official figures posted online.
Federal Times received the information under a Freedom of Information Act request filed earlier this year after attempts to obtain the data from the IRS’ public affairs office in Washington were unsuccessful.
The mini-exodus is part of a looming human capital challenge facing the tax-collection agency, according to J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. About one-third of the IRS’ overall workforce is eligible for retirement in the next five years, George said. Among executives, that ratio is more than two-thirds, George said in prepared testimony at a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing this month.
“Replacing these employees provides an opportunity for reshaping the IRS workforce,” George said, “but also represents a significant challenge since many departing employees possess unique skills and institutional knowledge that will be difficult to replace.”
Seldom does one federal agency save money at another’s expense. But that’s how it’s looking more than a year after the Internal Revenue Service opted to stop delivering millions of income tax forms by mail.
The IRS announced the decision in September 2010 as part of a push to economize on its annual printing and postage budget. As of this past August, the savings on postage costs just from not mailing Form 1040 packages amounted to about $4.1 million, according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. That was money lost to the U.S. Postal Service, which is in financial crisis driven partly by the shift to e-mail and electronic commerce.
The Postal Service recouped about half of that amount because the IRS used postcards to notify taxpayers of the change. But as the report notes, that was a one-time expense. And the report doesn’t attempt to quantify what the Postal Service will lose from the additional taxpayers who go with the IRS’ advice to “e-file” their annual returns.
Tags: IRS. U.S. Postal Service
# 5. A 1975 Chevrolet Corvette
Price tag: Auction starts at $900
Now I know what you are thinking. Its just a few days after the holidays and you are strapped for cash. But if you have a spare wad of money you should take a trip to Alton, Ill. to bid on one of the cooler cars that has come up for auction recently. The property was seized because of a failure to pay taxes and is being held by the IRS and has about 98,000 miles on it. It also comes in my favorite color – awesome.
#4 A 1982 Cessna 414A
Price tag: $295,000 (current bid)
While not as traditional as a Corvette, this low-wing cantilever monoplane (sounds fancy) with a conventional tail unit and a retractable tricycle landing gear is the perfect way to avoid the morning commute. The plane comes courtesy of the Interior Department’s National Business Center and is available for inspection at Turbo Air at the Boise, Idaho Airport. But be warned, it does not come with a warranty.
Price tag: At least $540,000
This 78,838 square foot building located on .88 acres in Portland may be the perfect addition to your collection of aging federal buildings (I have my eyes on the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C.) It comes with a 77 foot loading platform perfect for moving in. Constructed more than 125 years ago, it is a pretty good example of a federal building designed in the Italian Renaissance style.
Warning: May require significant renovations before its move-in ready.
#2 Oil painting: Donuts (Update: Sold)
Price tag: $225
Jump on this auction before it sells! Its an oil painting of donuts (actually, one croissant as well). One of the donuts is even chocolate frosted, which makes it the perfect piece of donut related art for your donut-themed recreation room.
Donuts. What more can I say?
Actually it just sold. Sorry guys.
#1 Four bags of unmarked uniforms
Price tag: $16
For sale are 4 boxes of unmarked uniforms, consisting of shirts, pants and jackets. All the uniforms have been decommissioned and unmarked. They might also be torn. But besides all that, these are the perfect addition to your wardrobe if you happen to wear the same thing every day.
Anything else interesting that your agency is selling? Feel free to post it in the comments.
Everyone hates the IRS, right?
Bunch of pencil-pushing money-grubbers whose goal in life is to squeeze every last dime from the poor taxpayer.
That’s the old stereotype, anyway.
But a new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that over the last decade or so, the tax-collecting agency has improved in public perception more than any of the other 12 agencies included in the survey.
The ratings bump could be a result of new, user-friendly online tax software.
Or it could just reflect the fact that the IRS was starting from such a low point — its favorable ratings were a dismal 38 percent in the late ‘90s. Its current 47 percent rating is better, but still the second lowest in the survey. (Come on down, Education Department!)
The full results are after the jump.
Nobody likes paying taxes, of course, but here are two things that might take a little sting out of today. The Onion has the scoop on the U.S. Postal Service’s latest can’t-miss scheme for boosting its dwindling revenue: Late-night post offices to draw in the nightclub crowd.
“We’re busier than ever, though to be honest, a lot of these people’s packages never even make it to the processing center,” Loftus continued. “The address will be illegible, or the envelope soaked in beer or hot sauce. You’d be surprised how many people try to mail themselves hot sauce at 2:30 in the morning.”
And enjoy this clip from the Simpsons episode The Trouble with Trillions. No matter how hectic your last-minute tax filing was, it couldn’t have been worse than this:
Sadly, it cuts off right before one of my all-time favorite Homer Simpson lines: “Would you look at those morons. I paid my taxes over a year ago!”
Placing too many security restrictions on mobile devices can deter employees from teleworking and fully using laptops and Blackberries, said federal cybersecurity officials today.
David Stender, assistant chief information officer for cybersecurity at the Internal Revenue Service, told FOSE convention attendees that restrictions can help protect your data but keep you from getting your money’s worth from mobile devices.
IRS uses a series of protections, including HSPD-12 cards, to allow users to authenticate themselves and access the IRS’ network, but those protections come with a price, he said. They do decrease battery life, which is frustrating for officers and investigators in the field, and provide many obstacles for employees looking to quickly send an e-mail or access a report. Some employees may grow so frustrated with security hurdles and diminished battery life that they don’t use the mobile devices they’re provided.
We’re not getting the productivity we should.”
The IRS is working to make its security protections more user friendly, and Stender said other IT professionals should consider the balance between security and productivity instead of just loading down devices with every protection possible.
If two IRS agents personally delivered a tax-due notice to your business, you’d assume you’d made a serious clerical error and owed thousands of dollars, right?
Try 4 cents.
That’s how much IRS agents told a manager last week at Harv’s Metro Car Wash in Sacramento, Calif., that the company owned in back taxes. Since the 4 cents dated back to 2006, interest and penalties owed totaled $202.31.
All for 4 cents.
The car wash’s owner, Aaron Zeff, told The Sacramento Bee that the IRS sent him a letter on Oct. 22, 2009, stating that his company “has filed all required returns and addressed any balances due.”
Reading that, one would gather that he or she owned no taxes. But apparently that’s not the case, and that has Zeff both confused and annoyed.
It’s hilarious that two people hopped in a car and came down here for just 4 cents. I think [the IRS] may have a problem with priorities.”
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is reportedly investigating more than 70 jokes or inappropriate statements that IRS agents felt were threatening since the Feb. 18 attack on an IRS building.
Colleen Kelley, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, told reporters on Tuesday that dozens of taxpayers have made jokes or comments about attacking the IRS since disgruntled taxpayer Joe Stack flew an airplane into the IRS’ Austin office. Some have cracked wise about wanting to take flying lessons while talking to the IRS about their audit, Kelley said, but TIGTA isn’t laughing.
IRS employees “didn’t think it was a joke,” Kelley said. “I cannot imagine in any scenario, following the Austin attack, where that’s an appropriate comment to make. TIGTA has assured us that each one of those instances are being thoroughly investigated.”
Federal Times reporter Gregg Carlstrom is working on a story about the growing concern among federal employees about anti-government extremists, and the violence that has recently erupted in places like Austin and at the Pentagon. What are your thoughts? What do you think the government should do to make the workplace safer for feds? E-mail him at email@example.com.
Update 3:50 p.m.: It appears that the man who flew his plane into the Austin office building may have intentionally targeted the building because it houses the IRS. A lengthy diatribe against the tax agency was posted on a website registered to Joe Stack, who has been identified as the pilot.
In addition, earlier reports that the CIA also leased space in the facility were incorrect, according to a federal official. The General Services Administration leases more than 44,000 square feet of space in the building for the IRS.
Original post: A small plane crashed into an office building in Austin, Texas, this morning that houses field offices for the FBI and CIA, according to various news reports.
Nearly 200 IRS employees work in the building, which is part of the Echelon office complex, and the building also houses CIA employees, according to local NBC affiliate KXAN. Employees were being accounted for.
Austin newspaper The Statesman quotes IRS agent William Winnie, who said he was in a training session on the third floor of the seven-story building when he saw a light-colored, single engine plane coming at the building. The plane crashed into the lower floors.
It looked like it was coming right in my window. I didn’t lose my footing, but it was enough to knock people who were sitting to the floor.