What it is like working inside the IRS. I worked for them (GS4) as a "Temp" in the "Purple Pen" section from 1989 until 1991. Every January we would report for work, get 1 to 2 weeks OJT on the computers catching up on the latest tax changes and codes, refresh our getting used to the sheer volume of returns we see, and get ready for the work load that was demanded from us.
The purple pen people were those employees who had the job of fixing the errors found in the return (Most were found and generated by the computers). Those returns were placed aside from all the other returns, bundled, and placed by the thousands into manageable folders of 50. After logging on, the computer would generate a
routing number. We were told by the computer which folder of returns we were to find the error in and fix the proper code into the computer to generate the required response.
We were under the gun from sign on to sign off, having to complete several hundred returns every day (I was doing 35 to 50 per hour). Our sign on code was changed every 45 days. We got two 15 minute breaks and a 1/2 hour lunch for our 8 hour day. Sometimes we would accidentally enter the wrong code. Almost all the codes had to agree with the computer, although some were (Could be) entered in error that the computer would accept. This would cause another section to manually recalculate the return.
Most errors were simple adding errors, some were wrong number of exemptions, or wrong purpose entry and wrong line entry. A few were disallowed exemptions.
The Red pen crowd were the people
who entered the data into the computers. Some of the errors started there. Our changing anything on the return was verboten.
The vast majority of the permanent employees believed they were Gods gift to the federal government, staving off the barbarian cheaters who would try every and any means of cheating the federal bureaucracy. All returns had to be examined within 45 days and a check or notice sent.
Our section leader would receive a cash bonus of a percent of the recovered money when our section generated money in (Cash receivable) within a quicker period of time or money found. One year (I think it was 1990) she got $30,000. I realized then the driving force behind the "Strive for Excellence" was money, not honesty.
The place was run like a prison with guards (Armed) at all intersection and exits/entrances. You had to show ID everywhere or be
arrested. Should your ID be the wrong color you could not go into certain areas.
From a return coming in it was date stamped, opened and separated, photographed, entered as data and sent (Divided into money in and money out) to whichever department the computer said needed attention. All returns were classified, placed into folders, and only accessible when guards transported them from the file room to wherever they were going. The building was huge beyond belief and several floors deep. Lunch was not an overlapping event (Only one section at a time) and all conversation was watched. Should a return you recognized come to you, you had to be sure someone else handled it.
While there I learned about the A/B side of the SS system. Side A was the person the IRS and SS people believed were the people who were the real person. Side B were all the people who used the identical SS number as the
A person. The federal people were not really concerned about the number of people using any given SS number as long as all of them paid taxes.
I made GS5 during the second year, which allowed me to handle prior year returns. Many returns somehow would be misplaced and/or not entered. Others were filed years after they were due. These returns obviously had prior year tax code requirements, and were handled separately. The IRS owed those who had refunds coming interest from when the returns were filed, minus any penalties.
The vast majority of the temps hated the job, hated the attitude of the permanent employees (Who hated the taxpaying public), and really did not like the fact that the peoples money was being wasted on incentives and bonuses to the upper level IRS people. The permanent people likewise had little use for the temps and suffered them as a necessity. You were an enemy
the moment you voiced any belief that the IRS was crooked, inept, or that the idea of a tax on income was unconstitutional. Their idea of income was any benefit you got of any kind for any reason.
Funny, because despite their talk, any one of them would cheat the system in every way they could. They would try to justify it as being allowed to claim all possible deductions allowable, answering only the questions they had to and never offering any other information. Wally