Taranto, the WSJ reporter who pens “Best of the Web” each day at that paper, worried that the worst possible outcome for the IRS scandal investigation would be if the decision to target and harass conservative groups came not from the administration but from IRS employees themselves: that, Taranto warned, would mean that the entire IRS was corrupt, and fixing it would prove far more difficult than merely lopping off a few heads at the top.
So here’s this report, just out from the Inspector General’s Office: IRS “hindered” efforts to prevent the misuse of Social Security numbers by illegal workers.
An audit report published this month by the inspector general for the Social Security Administration says that the Internal Revenue Service’s reluctance to penalize employers who consistently file W-2s on which the Social Security Number and name do not match has “hindered” the SSA’s efforts to stop “unauthorized noncitizens” from using Social Security Numbers that are fake or belong to someone else.
The audit report looked at “inaccurate wage reporting”—or the filing of W-2 forms on which the name and the Social Security Number do not match. The SSA has long said these no-match W-2s are frequently filed on behalf of illegal aliens. According to the IG audit report released earlier this month, a senior IRS official admitted to the IG that the service knows this is the case.
The IG said that although the IRS had the legal authority to penalize employers who filed large numbers of inaccurate W-2s, the IRS could not tell the IG how many employers it had actually penalized. At the same time, a number of SSA Employer Service Liaison Officers (ESLOs)–who deal with employers through regional SSA offices–told the IG they “were not aware” of the IRS penalizing any employers who had habitually filed inaccurate W-2s. [...]
“SSA senior staff did not believe employers had an incentive to submit accurate annual wage reports because the IRS rarely enforced existing penalties,” said the report. “SSA staff believed applying penalties would deter SSN misuse. Furthermore, SSA senior staff believed the Agency could provide the IRS with sufficient evidence to show an employer knew or should have known its employees’ SSNs were incorrect. For example, a reasonable person should recognize that hundreds of workers could not have the same or consecutively numbered SSNs.”
The fox is in the hen house.