Federal employees owe $1.03 billion in unpaid taxes
Congressional staffers owed about $10.6 million in unpaid taxes in 2010, a slight increase from the previous year and a growing slice of the roughly $1 billion owed by federal and postal workers nationwide.
The figures come as Republican efforts to pass legislation allowing federal agencies to fire tax delinquent federal employees have slowed and as the White House continues to crack down on improper payments made by agencies to delinquent government contractors and federal beneficiaries.
About 98,000 federal, postal and congressional employees owed $1.03 billion in unpaid taxes at the end of fiscal 2010, according to records provided by the Internal Revenue Service. The total number of delinquent employees dipped slightly from 2009, but the amount owed jumped by $32 million.
The figures are “totally unacceptable and disrespectful to hardworking American taxpayers,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “If you’re on the federal payroll, the very least you can do is pay your taxes.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). (Image via CBS News) Chaffetz and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have authored bills that would force federal agencies, the U.S. Postal Service and congressional offices to fire employees who purposely avoid paying taxes. Exceptions would be made for employees suffering from family turmoil or working to correct significant financial hardship. Chaffetz’s bill was approved by a committee last spring, but Coburn’s still awaits consideration by a Senate panel.
“Nobody’s going to take any joy in firing someone,” Chaffetz said in an interview. “But there’s enough people there that are simply thumbing their nose at American taxpayers that it’s not acceptable.”
But on Capitol Hill, 684 employees, or almost 4 percent, of the 18,000 congressional staffers owed taxes in 2010 - a jump of 46 workers from 2009. Four percent of House staffers owed $8.5 million and 3 percent of Senate employees owed $2.1 million, the IRS said.
At the Executive Office of the President - encompassing 1,800 employees of the West Wing, the Office of Management and Budget, the National Security Council and the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, among others - 36 staffers, or 2 percent, owed a $833,970. The amount owed increased by almost $3,000 from the previous year.