Embattled IRS plans employee bonuses for 2013 work to ‘boost morale’

They said the amount is lower than the $89.1 million paid out in 2012.

“Since he took office in December, Commissioner Koskinen has heard repeatedly from employees across the nation about the importance of the performance awards. The decision to cancel them last year was not a popular one, and significantly affected employee morale,” said spokeswoman Michelle Ethridge. “Pay-for-performance is also a significant factor in encouraging quality and efficient work across the IRS.”

An internal audit last year found that IRS employees deliberately slow-walked applications for tax-exempt status from tea party and conservative groups, and repeatedly asked intrusive questions about those groups’ activities.

The FBI and Justice Department are still looking into whether criminal activity occurred at the agency — though President Obama said this weekend in an interview with Fox News that he doesn’t think there was any criminal wrongdoing.

“There were some bone-headed decisions,” the president told Bill O’Reilly in a pre-Super Bowl interview Sunday, but he said the agency’s actions did not involve “even a smidgen of corruption.”

Those comments appeared to contradict the White House’s long-standing policy of not commenting on matters still under criminal investigation. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. last week said criminal charges are possible.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Mr. Obama is basing his opinion not on any inside information about that investigation, but on public reports from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which revealed the targeting in May.

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