IRS bonuses and tax compliance

I read in the news that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid out millions in bonuses to the its employees. Nothing wrong with rewarding good behavior and good job performance. But in some cases the behavior was not as good as I think it should be. I don’t know about job performance so I won’t comment on that.

But according to the news, over a thousand of these employees who collected over a million dollars in bonuses had issues with tax compliance themselves. If we include other types of conduct problems the numbers are 2,800 employees and over $2.8 million in bonuses.

The IRS has policy linking conduct and performance bonuses for executives and senior level employees but not for the entire workforce. The quote below is from the news article cited above.

“Even without a formal policy in place over the past four years, the IRS has not issued awards to any executives that were subject to a disciplinary action,” the IRS said in a statement. “We are also considering a similar policy for the entire IRS workforce, which would be subject to negotiations with the National Treasury Employees Union.”

I find it hard to believe the union would oppose such a policy, except for adding any due process concerns they have. And it should also be noted that these apparent tax cheats getting bonuses are only a small percentage of the work force.

But why should a tax cheat collect a bonus from a government that is being cheated by an employees. Some would argue that the employee should be reward for good job performance despite any tax compliance issues. But if these tax compliance issues are proved, should not any bonuses be applied to the tax owed?

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Phishing email says Amazon.com but it is NOT

This morning I received an email asking me to confirm my Amazon account because of suspicious activity. The email said it was from Amazon.com but the address said e-server.com rather than Amazon.com.

The confirmation link did not point to Amazon. I thought this was a phishing email and Amazon confirmed it when I contacted them (not using the link in the email, of course).

So if you get something similar, do not click on the link in the email.. Continue reading

Astoria by Peter Stark

Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark is a page-turning tale full of great adventures and a true story that was once well-known but until now was a forgotten piece of history.

In this remarkable book, Peter Stark tells us Continue reading

David Greer and Giovanna Tesio of NYC

I don’t think anyone ever said that genealogy was fast. Sometimes things happen quickly but, in my experience anyway, that is not very often.

For example, over a year ago I posted something here about the John Greer and Julia Mary Hopkins family of New York City and made note of the fact that their son David John Greer, his wife Anna, and baby daughter Rita Continue reading

Climate Change: Scientists think it is real but politicians doubt

The scientific evidence for climate change is pretty strong – we often hear that 97% of scientists agree that climate change is happening and human activities are at least partly the cause. A page at NASA shows this consensus.

The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows increasing confidence that this change is happening, using words such as “unequivocal” and “unprecedented“. Continue reading

Working poor, a documentary

Last night I watched the HBO documentary “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert”.

As mentioned previously, we subscribed to HBO because there was a series we wanted to watch on this premium cable channel but we stayed long after the show ended because of the documentaries. And then new shows start up and we’re glad we still have the subscription.

“Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert” did a good job Continue reading

Limerick Genealogy Day 2014

For those who plan on being in Limerick or can travel to Limerick, you may be interested in Limerick Genealogy Day 2014. It is a free event and many groups of historical and genealogical interest will be there for 1 day only. Full details are available on the web at http://limerickcityofculture.ie/content/genealogy-day.

The event will be on March 15, 2014 in Limerick city. This is a chance to view many genealogical records from Limerick and surrounding areas and get advice from the participating groups. Many are listed on the website. In addition, I know that the Letters of 1916 project will participate.

Letters of 1916 project at Trinity College

I received an interesting email today from Kevin Kavanagh at Trinity College Dublin. The Letters of 1916 project at Trinity College is creating digital collection of letters written between 1 November 1915 – 31 October 1916.

Letters of 1916 is the first public humanities project in Ireland. it is creating a crowd-sourced digital collection of letters written around the time of the Easter Rising (1 November 1915 – 31 October 1916).

This project could help provide insight into an important period in Irish history. Continue reading

Merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable

I’ve been reading and thinking about the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Since I live in the Philly area, I suppose I should be happy about it since Comcast is already an important part of the area economy and this merger would seem to enhance the growth of Comcast and our regional economy. But the power of such a large company which would control such a large part of the internet bothers me.

One the one hand, Comcast and Time Warner Cable do not, to my knowledge, compete in any markets. So it would appear their should be little, if any, effects on competition in individual markets. On the other hand, should one company control an estimated 30% of the internet?

Inherent conflict between Religious Freedom and ObamaCare

There is an inherent conflict between Religious Freedom and ObamaCare. Specifically, the mandate for employers to provide health insurance meeting standards and the employers right to refuse what they feel violates their religious beliefs. Considering an recent event demonstrates this clearly. Continue reading

Ending an unjust prosecution for assisted suicide

It happens to be Pennsylvania news but the issue is one that could happen almost anywhere and that is certainly worth thinking about. A loving daughter helps her father to relieve his pain and is unjustly prosecuted for assisted suicide. Continue reading