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Federal workers that owe back taxes now face firing

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 21st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's being seen as holding government workers accountable - new, approved legislation now says that federal workers with tax liens may now be fired. Approved by a House committee this week, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act also prohibits the future hiring of federal employees with tax liens.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in January, the bill was advanced with a voice vote by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"The very least an individual on the federal payroll can do is pay their taxes," Chaffetz said in a release. "If you are thumbing your nose up at the American taxpayer by not paying your taxes, you should be fired or not awarded a federal contract."

The bill also requires individuals applying for federal employment to "submit certification that such person does not have any seriously delinquent tax debt."

The new legislation is far-reaching, and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to those with an outstanding, unpaid tax debt. The legislation also requires federal agencies to conduct reviews of public records to determine if tax liens have been filed against current employees or applicants.

The Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2012 passed the House 263-114, but was never voted on in the Senate. The Internal Revenue Service has says that the number of federal workers and retirees who owed delinquent income taxes jumped by nearly 12 percent in 2011.

The statistics tell a somewhat shameful tale. Nearly 312,000 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in back taxes as of Sept. 30, 2011. The year before, about 279,000 workers and retirees owed $3.4 billion.

Overall, the 9.8 million workers included in the data had a delinquency rate of 3.2 percent, which is better than the general public. The IRS says the delinquency rate for the general public was 8.2 percent.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rate, at 4.4 percent. The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest, at 1.1 percent.

Among independent agencies with more than 1,000 workers, the Government Printing Office had the highest delinquency rate, at 7.6 percent. The National Credit Union Administration had the lowest, at 1 percent.

The IRS says most residents who owe back income taxes file returns but cannot pay the full amount at tax time. Others have their tax bills increased through audits and cannot pay the higher bill. It must be noted that these statistics on federal employees do not include those who are on payment plans.

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