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POLITICS: PennAve

Lawmakers say IRS is withholding documents as they demand new info on employee bonuses, paid leave

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Susan Ferrechio,House Committee on Oversight,Republican Party,IRS,Darrell Issa,PennAve,Dave Camp,House Ways and Means Committee

Congress wants answers from the IRS following a string of scandals involving targeting of conservative groups, costly conferences and big bonuses.

But lawmakers aren’t getting some of those answers from the agency, at least not fast enough.

The chairman and ranking Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service, sent a tersely worded letter on Wednesday to Daniel Werfel, the temporary head of the agency, demanding to know why he has not produced many of the documents lawmakers asked for in the wake of revelations that the IRS was targeting conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.

According to a statement from Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Sander Levin, D-Mich., the IRS has collected more than 65 million pages of documents in response to lawmakers' request, but has handed over only 13,000 pages.

The panel made the request for the documents on May 14 and Camp said Wednesday the lack of compliance is beginning to look like obstruction.

“The IRS demands that hardworking Americans comply with its rules and regulations, but it appears that same agency cannot comply with a simple Congressional request,” Camp said in a statement. “The IRS has not even produced 1 percent of responsive documents  that is inexcusable.”

Camp, meanwhile, has joined House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in asking the IRS for even more documents.

In a separate letter to Werfel, Issa and Camp asked for information about employees who were fired or placed on leave in the wake of the targeting matter, including Lois Lerner, the former head of the agency’s tax exempt division who asserted her right not to testify at a congressional hearing after reading a lengthy statement in her own defense.

In often tense exchanges during committee hearings, Werfel has often cited privacy laws when asked about the employment status of IRS supervisors associated with the targeting. Lerner had been placed on paid leave after refusing to resign.

The letter also requests information about the agency’s policy for awarding bonuses, particularly to those involved in the targeting.

Werfel is trying to eliminate the bonus system, after the agency was nearly forced to pay $70 million in bonuses to the Treasury’s union workers. The money was instead used to cancel planned furloughs needed because of budget cuts.

Issa and Camp want Werfel to provide information on all the employee bonuses handed out since 2010 and specifically the amount of bonus money awarded to Lerner and three other top agency officials who were associated with the targeting.

Camp and Issa have given Werfel an Aug. 7 deadline to provide the information, but given the current backlog that may be a difficult deadline for the agency to meet.

The IRS has not responded to a request for a comment about either letter.

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Susan Ferrechio

Chief Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner