IRS Looking to Hire 500 Agents Nationwide

With surveys showing that more people think it's OK to lie on their tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service is looking to hire 500 new agents to make sure returns are correct and that tax evaders pay up.

The effort is part of a nationwide hiring campaign targeting 70 cities. The agency plans to start hiring revenue agents, revenue officers and tax compliance officers over the next several months ending in January 2005. Agents handle the audits and officers are the ones who convince taxpayers to do just that - pay their taxes.

"They usually don't show up on your doorstep unless we've been working with you for a very long time," Victor Omelczenko, an IRS spokesman in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. "The full force of the law can be applied to tax evaders - you could wind up in jail if you don't pay."

According to the agency, 17 percent of taxpayers think fibbing on their returns is acceptable, up from 11 percent four years ago.

The IRS, one of the largest single employers of professional accountants, said starting salaries generally are in the range of $33,071 to $58,903 per year.

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