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Eye Opener: Threats against IRS workers continue

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! Threats against Internal Revenue Service workers and facilities continue to pour in following last month's plane crash at agency offices in Austin.

IRS watchdogs are investigating more than 70 reported instances of inappropriate comments made to agency workers by taxpayers, union officials said earlier this week.

Despite earlier reports suggesting it was 70 actual threats, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley clarified on Wednesday that workers have received a mix of inappropriate comments -- including jokes or statements of support for pilot A. Joseph Stack III -- and more serious threats. Kelley said she learned of the threats from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which tracks threats against IRS workers.

Neither TIGTA nor the IRS would confirm an actual number of threats or share details of ongoing investigations.

“TIGTA is actively and aggressively investigating all threats made against IRS employees, infrastructure and property,” said J. Russell George, the treasury inspector general for tax administration.

IRS workers are instructed to report threats made against them to TIGTA immediately. The watchdog has established a toll-free hotline, e-mail address and internal messaging system for workers to quickly report potential threats.

“It would be a little naïve to think that we don’t get some threats over the course of doing business," said IRS Communications Director Terry Lemons.

As The Eye has reported previously, attacks and threats against IRS workers and facilities happen frequently and are not confined to the annual tax filing season. The most recent attack at the Austin offices comes amid a wave of attacks at government and military facilities in the last six months.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Question of the Week: If you're a federal worker, do you feel safe at your place of work? If you're not a federal worker, do you feel that nearby federal facilities are well protected? Send your responses to and please include your full name, hometown, the agency for which you work. Your thoughts may be used in Friday's Washington Post.

'Census mailer' bill passes: The House unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that bans misleading mailings that appear to be from the U.S. Census Bureau, picking up full Republican support even though GOP political committees have sent such forms. The bill requires any mailing with the word "census" on the forms or envelope to state the sender's name and address and a disclaimer that the mailing is not affiliated with the federal government. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) vowed to move the bill through the Senate as the government prepares to send census forms to American households next week.

Cabinet and Staff News: Finding the inner Timothy Geithner. Hillary Rodham Clinton widens her circle at the State Department. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. plans to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee later this month. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tells insurers it's not too late to work together. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joins President Obama in Washington today for his speech on boosting exports. Alan Greenspan to get grilled by financial recovery panel. OMB Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients fires up the troops to change federal hiring.

Hill unhappy with Capitol Police: Lawmakers are warning the chief that a $5.5 million budget miscalculation could cost him control of his own department’s budget.

Air Force requests funds for new nuclear armed cruise missile: It plans to spend more than $800 million to add the weapon to its bomber aircraft.

Security company accused of animal neglect: The Navy says three dogs died and 46 others were in poor health after being neglected by a private firm in Chicago that had been hired to train the dogs to detect explosives.

168,000 DOD employees may transfer to new pay systems by September: The new director of the National Security Personnel System transition office said transitions will begin in May, after all offices with NSPS employees finish upgrading their software to handle the switch.

Push to cure rare diseases: Agency officials go to new legnths to encourage applications for orphan-drug status.

Agencies finding it hard to follow through on open government order: Experts said drafting open government plans with long-term steps for improving transparency, and soliciting public feedback will be harder and take months to complete.

Use of private security guards at government buildings comes under scrutiny: Poor job security and the potential dangers that come with protecting government buildings make it a risky line of work, said guards interviewed this week.

Condor lays egg in national park: Biologists at Pinnacles National Monument in central California are celebrating it as the first egg laid by a mating pair inside the park in more than a century.

State Dept. to launch internal social site: "State Book" is a natural addition to the many online activities launched by State in the past few years, according to Foggy Bottom's e-diplomacy director.

Overworked U.S. Embassy in Kabul straining to meet administration's demands: The embassy's work last year was particularly notable, the report said, because it took place amid an almost 100 percent turnover in staff, Afghanistan's troubled presidential election and the months-long White House strategy review in the fall.

Relief for furloughed DOT workers?: If you are among the nearly 2,000 Transportation Department employees who were furloughed last week, help is on the way.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | March 11, 2010; 6:05 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Dear Air Force - Screw off. There's over 4,000 nukes deployed operationally. We have budget deficit to worry about. We don't need another 200 nuclear cruise missles. We need a functional DC Metro.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | March 11, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Item fails to identify any changes in IRS conduct that could be increasing the violence. Remember that in the Grapes Of Wrath, the bank-hired bulldozer appeared on the property along with sheriffs who carried shotguns.

The IRS shouldn't be increasing the force of its methods without increasing the amount of firepower that it wields.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 11, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

IRS-bashers always seem to lack one crucial piece of information: The IRS does not make tax policy. Congress determines what tax brackets will be, what will be taxed, the associated ceilings and exemptions, etc. The IRS issues rules but its main function is to enforce the taxation measures PASSED BY CONGRESS.

If you believe you're being taxed unfairly, you should complain to your member of Congress. Threatening federal employees is disgusting and a sign of profound ignorance of your country's government.

Posted by: econgrrl | March 11, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Though I understand the ire felt in regard to the IRS, most are hard working feds that are just doing their job. On the other hand there are IRS 'gatekeepers' (the IRS folks you talk to when you place a phone call to the IRS) that should be fired. They definitely would not qualify to be WalMart greeters! A couple of years ago I had occasion to call the IRS over a small matter that I had forgotten to include in my tax forms that I had submitted. I called three times over a period of three months to find out what was going on with my case. (Three months?!) One of the three 'gatekeepers' was just that, a gatekeeper; I learned nothing. The third gatekeeper was most helpful and I'm sure exceeded his authority by actually being helpful. The second one was the stereotyped IRS employee. I was treated as though I had intentionally tried to short change the treasury of millions of dollars. (My bill for back taxes owed was $222 including penalties which were paltry.) She was so rude that I forgot my question and politely hung up. She should be fired. It is people like her that give the IRS the undeserved reputation of being overly aggressive pitbulls. They need to be weeded out. But there is no need to be rude in return. Just take down their IRS identifying number and report them. To whom? Beats me.

Posted by: JJSchwartz01 | March 11, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I worked for the IRS for a few years and even as attorneys, we received some training on dealing with threats. Stuff like being sure not to surprise people, not leaving things like staplers in conference rooms where they could be used as weapons by angry people, knowing how to report threats, recognize bombs, etc. You know, others already have said it but Congress makes the tax laws. Government employees just enforce them. The fact that we do our jobs allows you to enjoy at least the semblance of clean air and water, occupational safety and health, safe skies, a national defense (yes, our costly military campaigns, international presence, and bloated defense contracts are all funded with tax dollars), food and drugs that are generally not poisonous, and more. Let us do our jobs.

Posted by: kgirl2 | March 11, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

kgirl2, I love you. You reveal how IRS employees actually think of themselves.

When someone is angry, then the IRS is just enforcing congress's laws, "Congress makes the tax laws."

When it comes to collecting, then the IRS provides the public with "clean air and water, occupational safety and health, safe skies, a national defense (yes, our costly military campaigns, international presence, and bloated defense contracts are all funded with tax dollars), food and drugs that are generally not poisonous, and more".

I used to think that it was congress that did the good stuff and the IRS that did the bad stuff. Thanks for setting me strait.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 11, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

So, now it's illegal to say anything bad about the IRS, or to IRS employees? Sounds like another encroachment on free speech in defense of the overweening, overbearing, incompetent government. Threats are one thing; voicing support for what happened in Austin, while being perhaps in poor taste, is another.

Time to do away with the IRS all together, and repeal the 16th Amendment.

Posted by: srpinpgh | March 11, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Government employees should not face a death sentence for showing up at work - no matter how unpopular the job...
The majority of the hot heads posting on here would not last 5 minutes doing one of those jobs, especially IRS or Customs...
There will always be a few whackos out there intent on committing mayhem against the government just to show how angry they are - basically a 3 year old in an adult body, throwing a tantrum - with deadly results...

Having said that, some federal employees should not be on the job... Last summer we came back from an overnight visit to Canada and the agent in the customs booth wanted me to know 'loud and clear' that he would decide whether I was allowed to enter the country - or not... I was nothing but polite the entire time and there was no excuse for his behavior...


Posted by: ad4hk2004 | March 11, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Only 70 "inappropriate comments made to agency workers by taxpayers"? By April 15th, they'll have to devote the entire federal workforce and half of India to the cause. Maybe this is why the Department of Education is buying sawed-off shotguns?

Posted by: member5 | March 11, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a pretense to imprison tax protesters.

Posted by: fireball72 | March 11, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

"Security Company accused of animal neglect ."

This is disgusting. Unspeakable. My God,I can't, don't want to believe it. These creatures cannot speak for themselves.

Please, Federal Eye, follow up on this story and let us know what happens, and if the animals have been rescued, and if this company has been fired. Should I write to Senators and Rep?

Posted by: bluhvn | March 11, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who makes threats should and will be prosecuted.

Anyone who doesn't pay their taxes will and should be attacked by the IRS

Does the IRS make wrong decisions? Sure. Does it mean all of their decisions are wrong? No, not even close

99% of those tax protesters are too stupid or ignorant to support their own arguments with any substantive facts. All of their anti-tax arguments have been completely debunked

Posted by: Bious | March 13, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

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