Did you know that IRS employees who do not pay their taxes on time risk losing their jobs? The Internal Revenue Service takes their employee’s conduct very seriously, so it came as a surprise to many when an internal audit found that many independent contractors still working at the IRS owed unpaid taxes but were still working for the agency.

For those who have faced a conflict with the IRS over unpaid taxes and has experienced the sometimes harsh process, it may be disheartening to discover that the agency may be less stringent with contractors who have access to sensitive information.

In total, the inspector general found that 691 contractors for the IRS had tax debt, which equals about five percent of the independent contractors currently employed there. Of those, just under half had not yet set up a payment plan for 2012 tax debt, so if they were regular IRS employees they would not have been allowed back to the agency’s facilities until they had done so.

Setting up a payment plan is a common way to resolve tax debt with the IRS, even though it might seem like paying all of one’s debt upfront is the only option. Payment plans are available for those who don’t have the resources to pay all of their tax debt off at once or others who have a special circumstance that qualifies for relief under IRS policies. Taxpayers often find it helpful to get assistance from an experienced tax attorney to help arrange a settlement with the IRS and to set up a binding payment plan, since attempting this alone can be difficult and may have a lower success rate on complex cases.

Source: The Hill, “Audit: IRS contractors rack up tax debts,” Bernie Becker, Oct. 23, 2013.