Burr, Republican Senators Reintroduce Bill to Hold Senior IRS Officials Accountable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the IRS Accountability Act of 2018, which gives the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner clear authority to fire senior officials for misconduct or poor performance. This legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-IV), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

In a statement, Senator Burr said, “In most workplaces in America, failing to do your job means you lose your job - plain and simple. However, that isn’t always the case in the federal government, where misconduct is protected by lines of red tape. This bill allows the IRS Commissioner to hold high-level employees in the Senior Executive Service (SES) accountable by clarifying that the Commissioner has the ability to fire officials for failure in their performance or for committing serious misconduct. After egregious scandals, like the inappropriate targeting of conservatives by the IRS, holding top officials responsible for their job performance is long overdue. With this bill, we can begin to restore the public’s trust in the competence and conduct of the federal workforce.”

“Accountability is key for a well-functioning and responsible federal government,” said Senator Grassley. “When federal employees engage in wrongdoing, cannot meet professional expectations or fail to fulfill the responsibilities of their job, taxpayers should not be on the hook financially. This bill is a signal to the American people that Congress takes its oversight responsibilities seriously and is working on their behalf, rather than working to protect unelected bureaucrats.”

“Nevadans work hard for their paychecks and they deserve to know that Washington D.C. bureaucrats will be held accountable if they’re not doing their jobs,” said Senator Heller. “In order to increase transparency and restore the public’s trust that was lost under the previous Administration, it is important that senior IRS officials are held responsible for their job performance and serious misconduct. Our legislation makes sure of it, and I will work with my colleagues to send it to the President’s desk.”

“It is important that we can hold employees of the IRS accountable for their actions no matter how high up the chain of command they are. Misconduct is misconduct, and having the status of senior executive should not allow anyone to escape responsibility,” Senator Enzi said. “This legislation is about helping provide accountability and restoring trust in the IRS to the American people.”

“As a former small business owner, I know employees across the country give their all every day to support their families, and the same should certainly be expected in the federal government,” said Senator Scott. “The IRS Accountability Act, of which I am an original cosponsor, ensures that the IRS functions like the rest of American offices—if you fail to properly execute your duties, you’re out. Furthermore, it allows the IRS Commissioner to discharge any and all high-level employees, including Senior Executive Service (SES), when they don’t meet expectations. We need to rebuild the trust Americans have lost in the their government.”  

“The best thing we can do across our federal government is root out the abusive or corrosive behavior of bureaucrats who know how to game the system. Congress is taking on obstructionist bureaucracy and addressing the problems we’ve seen at the IRS,” said Senator Isakson. “I’m in favor of any steps we can take to reduce waste, fraud and abuse and hold bad government employees accountable for their misdeeds. This commonsense measure will begin to fix a problem that should never have been allowed.”


The IRS Accountability Act of 2018 clarifies that the IRS Commissioner has the power to fire senior executives who have failed in their performance or committed serious misconduct. It is based on a law Congress passed in 2014 with broad bipartisan support that gave the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the authority to fire senior executives for misconduct. The provision applies to the highest ranking IRS employees in the Senior Executive Service (SES), and allows the Commissioner to terminate employees for misconduct already deemed severable offenses under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. Such offenses include threatening to audit someone for personal gain, conducting a seizure without approval, assaulting, harassing or violating the civil rights of a taxpayer or a coworker, lying under oath, falsifying or destroying records, concealing information from Congress, underreporting income and failing to file a tax return on time.

Text of the bill can be found here.