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.
Yes, political passions are at fever pitch this election season, but federal workers are risking their jobs if they cross in the line into activity banned by the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel warns in a news release. The agency is responsible for enforcement of the act, which generally bars partisan politicking on government time.
As evidence, the agency cites two cases that it took to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Both involved workers who in 2008 sent fund-raising e-mails while at work on behalf of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
In one of those cases, involving an IRS agent, the board in August ordered a 120-day suspension. In the other, where a Bureau of Printing and Engraving contracting officer sent fund-raising pitches to three contract workers over whom she had “authority and influence,” the board in June ordered her fired after a 38-year government career.
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.”
Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano was on the Diane Rehm show earlier this week. Part of the interview focused on Joe Stack, the man who flew his small plane into the IRS building Austin, and Napolitano — who clearly wanted to avoid calling Stack a terrorist — offered a slightly odd definition of terrorism.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just think, snowed-in feds — should Washington D.C. break its snowfall record next year, perhaps you can catch up on episodes of Ron Howard’s planned Internal Revenue Service comedy. It’ll almost be like you’re back in your offices!
FedLine has blogged about Howard’s planned Fox series before, which will be shot “documentary style” like NBC’s The Office and Parks & Recreation. Now we’re learning that Howard has started casting the show, with Numb3rs star David Krumholtz in the lead. Krumholtz will lead the action in an IRS regional office, according to Michael Ausiello over at Entertainment Weekly.
What say you, feds? Would you watch a show set at a federal office? Who would you like to see play feds?
Is the IRS funny? Famed director Ron Howard thinks so.
Howard and his producing partner, Brian Grazer, are the team behind the critically-acclaimed and ratings-challenged “Arrested Development.” Howard may need to tap that blend of hysterical awkwardness with his new sitcom, which will be centered around an Internal Revenue Service field office. Trade publication The Hollywood Reporter first announced the project.
The show has a pilot commitment with Fox, which means the network will pay to develop the first episode of the show, known as a pilot, and will pay a penalty to Howard and Grazer should it not pick up the pilot for air. Howard hired Brent Forrester, a writer-director on NBC’s “The Office,” to write the pilot.
Forrester had kind words for IRS’ employees, describing the boss in the show as “trying hard to believe that his job is good and noble and provides a very important, vital service.”
The one thing that unites all Americans is their suspicion and hatred for the IRS. That makes the characters on the show underdogs, because outside the office everyone is suspicious of them.”
Do you think this show sounds like a promising sitcom? Would you watch? Or do you think Americans don’t want to watch feds at work?