Threats Against IRS Employees On The Rise, Increased 21 Percent From 2008 To 2009

This afternoon's incident at an Internal Revenue Service facility in Utah, in which several people were removed on stretchers after an "unknown substance" was found, appears to be the latest in an alarming rise in threats against the agency's employees.

According to the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration, the number of threats against IRS employees increased 21.5% from FY 2008, when there were 834 threats to FY 2009, when there were 1,014 threats.

Over the past four years, there appears to be a "steady, upward trend" in threats against IRS staffers, a TIGTA official told Dow Jones Newswires last week. The most unnerving incident in recent memory occurred just two weeks ago, when Joseph Stack flew his plane into IRS offices in Austin, Texas, killing one employee nearing retirement.

Other notable attacks on the tax-collecting arm of the government in recent years include:

In March of 2009, Randy Nowak hired a hit man to kill an IRS worker auditing his tax return and to burn down IRS offices in Lakeland, Fla. He was sentenced to 30 years in jail.

In 2008, Earnest Milton Barnett rammed his Jeep Cherokee into the IRS's Birmingham, Ala., offices and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.