Bill Would Benefit Officers

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Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has introduced a bill to allow IRS revenue officers and inspectors of the Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to retire with full benefits at age 50 after 20 years of service.

Under current law, many federal law enforcement officers and firefighters are eligible to retire at age 50 with 20 years of service. But IRS, Customs and INS officers are covered by the normal rules of federal retirement, making them eligible for retirement at age 55 with 30 years of service, at age 60 with 20 years of service, and at age 62 with 5 years of service.

Mikulski says the IRS, Customs and INS officers deserve the same retirement eligibility as other law enforcement officers.

"The employees under this bill have very hazardous, physically taxing occupations, and it is in the public's interest to tenure a young and competent work force in these jobs," Mikulski says.

"IRS revenue officers are subject to more assaults than any other group of federal workers," says Robert Tobias, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). "Many IRS employees must employ pseudonyms to hide their identity because of the great threat to their personal safety," Mikulski says.

IRS revenue officers collect from delinquent taxpayers. Customs Service and Immigration inspectors guard against terrorism and drug smuggling. They seize illegal possessions and make arrests.

Mikulski introduced the bill in the 103rd and 104th Congresses, but it never reached a vote. Tobias says NTEU will work to get it passed this year.

"Not one member of Congress we've talked to has said these folks don't deserve it," Tobias says.

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