Many federal employees delinquent on taxes

WASHINGTON — 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 hiring the tax delinquents on Uncle Sam’s payroll.

The report shows that about 98,000 federal civilian workers and postal employees — or roughly 3 percent of that workforce — owed about $1 billion 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 cleared a committee last year and awaits a House vote. Under the bill, anyone who is “seriously delinquent” with a debt that has led to a public lien notice would be 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.

During a hearing last year, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that the tax compliance rate in the federal community is much higher than in the general public.

The IRS was owed more than $114 billion by all individual taxpayers as of last Sept. 30, according to the agency.

Critics of the legislation have said that firing employees who owe taxes would make it more difficult to collect the money. “The unemployed hardly make for very good taxpayers,” the Federal Managers Association said in a letter to lawmakers last year.

Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., whose district includes many federal workers, complained during the hearing that the bill sought to make public employees, the overwhelmingly majority of whom pay their taxes, a “punching bag.”

Perhaps, he said, the bill should to apply to members of Congress. “Any member of Congress delinquent in his or her taxes is automatically suspended from Congress,” he suggested. “That would be as much due process as we’re giving federal employees.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

Tala Davey-Wraight, 3, is thrown in the air by her dad Oscar Davey-Wraight, one of the Summer Meltdown headliners also known as Opiuo, during Cory Wong’s set on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After Monroe debut, no Summer Meltdown music fest in 2023

Organizers announced Wednesday they would “take the year off in order to figure out the best path forward for Summer Meltdown in 2024.”

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace council taps planning commissioner for open seat

With five votes, Rory Paine-Donovan was affirmed to join the ranks of the Mountlake Terrace City Council.

Federal agents seized many pounds of meth and heroin, along with thousands of suspected fentanyl pills, at a 10-acre property east of Arlington in mid-December 2020. (U.S. Attorney’s Office) 20201223
Leader of Snohomish County fentanyl, meth ring gets federal prison

A search of Cesar Valdez-Sanudo’s property in Arlington unearthed kilos of drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Karla Wislon holds a champagne glass while celebrating the closing sale of her home in Palm Springs, Ca. on May 14, 2021. (Family photo)
Former state Rep. Karla Wilson, 88, remembered as ‘smart, energetic’

Wilson served the 39th Legislative district from 1985 to 1991. She died Dec. 31.

CEO Amy King standing outside of a pallet shelter. (Courtesy of Pallet Shelter)
After rapid rise, Everett’s Pallet hits milestone: 100 shelter villages

Temporary home manufacturer Pallet hires locals who have “experienced homelessness, substance abuse or the justice system.”

Locals from the group Safe Lynnwood gather in front of the Ryann Building on 196th Street SW to protest the opening of a methadone clinic in the building on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Despite controversy, Lynnwood opioid treatment center opens its doors

For weeks, protesters have objected to the center opening near Little League fields and a Boys and Girls Club.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Lobbyist barred from WA Capitol after ruling he stalked representative

State Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, obtained a domestic violence protective order against longtime lobbyist Cody Arledge.

Charlie Pancerzewski (Courtesy of Pancerzewski family)
Mukilteo citizen watchdog, 83, spoke for ‘the facts and the truth’

“It is fitting that the public see (Charlie Pancerzewski’s) name when they get up to the podium for public comment,” the mayor said.

A suspect removes a rifle bag from a broken rear window of a Seattle police car on May 30 in downtown Seattle. An Everett man, Jacob D. Little, 24, has been charged with the theft of the high-powered rifle stolen from the car. This image is from the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. 20200904
Everett man sentenced for stealing police gun in Seattle protest

Jacob Little, 26, now faces second-degree murder charges for allegedly killing a man in Renton in August 2020.

Most Read