By Ed O'Keefe
Attacks on the Internal Revenue Service and its employees similar to Thursday's small plane crash in Texas are common, according to federal
records and investigations.
"There is a direct correlation between increased IRS enforcement efforts and the number of threats made against IRS employees," said J.
Russell George, who heads the office of the Treasury Inspector General
for Tax Administration. His office handled more than 1,200 threat and
assault case referrals from the IRS and its employees between fiscal
2001 and 2008. The cases resulted in more than 167 indictments and at
least 195 convictions, he said.
The nation's economic downturn and Americans' frustrations with their civic responsibilities have inspired many of the incidents,
George said. The agency has stepped up enforcement efforts since
Commissioner Douglas Shulman took over in 2008.
In a statement, Shulman expressed deep personal concern for IRS employees in Austin.
"While this appears to be an isolated incident, the safety of our employees is my highest priority. We will continue to do whatever is
needed to ensure our employees are safe," Shulman said.
At least two people in Austin were rushed to a hospital with unspecified injuries, and one IRS employee was unaccounted for as of
Thursday evening, local officials said.
Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, kept close tabs on developments. NTEU represents 85,000 IRS
"I know that people across the country share my deep concern for these federal employees and the trauma they have experienced," Kelley
said in a statement.