Threats continue for IRS workers, families

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 10:09 PM

Internal Revenue Service employees and their families are facing threats from angry taxpayers, according to a watchdog's report released this week.

The nation's slow economic recovery and lingering frustrations with the federal government inspire many of the threats, according to watchdogs with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which tracks IRS operations and released updated figures this week.

The report doesn't detail attacks against workers but recounts several credible threats.

A North Carolina man is serving 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release for threatening to assault an IRS special agent. The man, sentenced in May, had contacted the investigator by phone in April 2009 and repeatedly said, "I'm gonna off you," the report said. The man also contacted the agent's wife, telling her, "Goodbye, you're not going to see me again, and you will be reading about me in the papers."

A California man was convicted of making a bomb threat against the IRS. The man, who had a history of threatening violence against agency employees, called in a threat against IRS offices in Fresno. Local police and agency security officers did not find a bomb after searching the building. The man is serving five years of probation and faces more than $830 in fines, according to the report.

In a California case from August 2009, a man was charged with making a bomb threat after he handed an IRS employee a note that read "BOMB BAG" and then patted his backpack. Special agents responded when the IRS worker, who had been assisting the man before the threat, activated a panic alarm. Police arrested the man and found no bomb in his backpack, the report said.

A Florida woman was charged in May for allegedly making more than five years' worth of harassing phone calls to IRS employees. She phoned one IRS worker seven times, and in one call threatened to kill the worker and the worker's family, the report said.

TIGTA has handled more than 1,200 cases of threats or assaults against IRS workers in the past nine years, resulting in more than 167 indictments and more than 200 convictions, a spokesman said.

Last February a man crashed a small plane into IRS offices in Austin, killing an agency employee and the pilot. In his suicide note, the pilot recounted more than two decades of grievances against the IRS.

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