MARCH 18, 2010
Tax delinquency is so rampant among federal government workers—including those at key presidential cabinet agencies—that a U.S. Congressman has introduced legislation to fire derelict employees and ban the hiring of other scofflaws.
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees and retirees owe Uncle Sam billions of dollars in taxes and the figure increases annually, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In 2008 alone, 276,300 federal workers stiffed the government out of $3.04 billion in taxes. The figure marks a substantial increase from $2.7 billion the previous year.
Practically every federal agency has delinquent employees, according to the IRS figures, and the agency with the most tax scofflaws is the U.S. Postal Service with nearly 30,000 workers who owe $297,933,756. Incredibly, this is an improvement from 2007 when more than 54,000 postal employees failed to pay over $407 million.
Retired military personnel make up around 33% of the money owed ($1,343,538,055) and nearly 30,000 active-duty military employees owe the government well over $100 million. More than 400 employees in the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pay close to $6 million and 231 in the U.S. Senate owe nearly $2.5 million. Fifty employees in the Executive Office of the President, which includes the White House, still owe $812,917.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the cabinet agency with the highest delinquency rate at around 4% and the Treasury Department wins for best compliance with less than 1% of workers who didn’t pay their taxes in 2008, the latest available figures.
About 100,000 civilian federal employees currently owe the IRS $962 million, which disturbed a Utah lawmaker, Republican Jason Chaffetz, enough to introduce a bill that could help remedy the problem. The measure calls on the federal government to get rid employees who have “seriously delinquent tax debt” and bans the hiring of anyone who owes back taxes.
Only IRS employees can be terminated for not paying their federal income taxes, which is why the agency has the lowest level of tax delinquency of any federal agency. The pending legislation would simply extend the IRS’s effective system to the rest of the government.
After all, most federal jobs offer higher salaries than the private sector, unheard of stability and lucrative benefits not easily found outside the government.
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