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IRS investigates flurry of threats against its workers and facilities

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 12, 2010

Threats against Internal Revenue Service workers and facilities continue to pour in after last month's plane crash at agency offices in Austin, according to union officials. The pilot and an IRS employee died in the crash.

IRS watchdogs are investigating more than 70 reported instances of inappropriate comments made to agency workers by taxpayers, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley said Wednesday. Workers have received a mix of inappropriate verbal comments -- including jokes or statements of support for pilot A. Joseph Stack -- and more serious threats, she said.

Kelley said she learned of the threats from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which tracks threats against IRS workers. Neither TIGTA nor the IRS would confirm the number of threats or share details of the probe.

"TIGTA is actively and aggressively investigating all threats made against IRS employees, infrastructure and property," said J. Russell George, the treasury inspector general for tax administration. His office and the IRS have instructed workers to report threats immediately. "It would be a little naive to think that we don't get some threats over the course of doing business," said IRS Communications Director Terry Lemons.

Attacks and threats against IRS workers and facilities are nothing new and are not confined to the annual spring tax filing season, Lemons said. People have rammed cars into offices as well as set them on fire. And some people have taken out hits on agency employees, he said.

The ongoing probe is unfolding in the aftermath of last week's attack on the Pentagon in which a gunman wounded two police officers outside the entrance before he was fatally shot.

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