Valeri Potapova /

IRS Gave Executive Bonuses Totaling $6 Million Over Five Years

Tax Analysts’ FOIA suit details 1,269 performance awards averaging $4,483.

During five years spent under steady fire from Republicans in Congress, the Internal Revenue Service gave out 1,269 performance awards and retention incentives to 351 Office of Chief Counsel executive managers worth a total of $5.97 million, according to new numbers released to the publisher Tax Analysts under the Freedom of Information Act.

The average award during the five-year span from Jan. 1, 2010, to Feb. 2, 2015, was $4,483. Individual awards for a single year, however, ranged from $88 to $44,096, and total awards for individuals over the period ranged from $250 to $285,688, the publisher reported.

At an April hearing, Republicans blasted Commissioner John Koskinen for complaining about budget cuts, saying he chose to give executive bonuses over improving customer service. Past and current members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee did not respond to Government Executive requests for comment.

The bulk of the awards were given in the month of August, Tax Analysts noted, with the “peak” of awards having been given in 2011 when IRS paid three chief counsel executives a total of $108,544.

The most generous bonuses went to general tax attorneys (average $3,207), then supervisory trial attorneys (average $2,927), and then associate chief counsels (average $19,500). “At the level of deputy chief counsel (operations), retention incentives outweighed performance awards,” the publisher said, “six totaling $185,993 for the former, and five worth $99,695 for the latter.”

The largest single performance award was $35,400, given to Associate Chief Counsel Curtis Wilson in 2010, the data showed. The last retention incentive was $44,096 given twice to Deputy Chief Counsel (Operations) Christopher Sterner, and once to Catherine Livingston, special counsel to the chief counsel. Sterner’s five-year retention incentives totaled $185,993.

IRS bonuses were suspended by acting Commissioner Danny Werfel in 2012, but were restored soon after Koskinen’s arrival in December 2013.

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