Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fire them? Federal employees, retirees owe $3.4 billion in taxes

A recent IRS report showing that current and retired federal employees owe more than $3.4 billion in income taxes is fueling a drive on Capitol Hill to fire -- and prohibit the hiring of -- tax delinquents on Uncle Sam's payroll.

The report shows that about 98,000 federal civilian workers and postal employees -- or roughly 3% of the federal civilian and Postal Service workforce -- owed about $1 billion to Uncle Sam in 2010, including 684 congressional staffers who owed more than $10 million.

While the total number of delinquent federal employees has dropped, the $1 billion in tax debt for current civilian workers has increased from about $600 million in 2004. When retirees and military personnel are included, nearly 280,000 people owed $3.4 billion, according to the data.

"If you work for the federal government and you don't pay your taxes, you should be fired," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who has sponsored the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act.

The measure, which cleared a committee last year and awaits a House vote, would make anyone "seriously delinquent" -- that is, with a debt for which a notice of lien has been filed in public records -- ineligible for federal work. It would exempt active military personnel and federal workers who enter installment arrangements to pay off their tax debts. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Read More