Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) have introduced a bill prohibiting the federal government from employing those with seriously delinquent tax debts.
The legislation requires all federal employees to be current on their federal income taxes, and would allow for the termination of any worker with seriously delinquent tax debt. Additionally, any individual in debt to the government because of unpaid federal taxes would be ineligible for employment with the federal government.
“Seriously delinquent” tax debt is defined as “an outstanding debt under the internal revenue code of 1986 for which a notice of lien has been filed in public records.” Exceptions are made for tax debt being repaid pursuant to an agreement with the IRS and tax debt subject to a collection due process hearing. The bill requires the Office of Personal Management to prescribe a regulation for carrying out the bill including authorizing each agency to establish an appeal process for affected individuals.
The Senators noted that according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), 311,566 federal employees and retirees owe $3.5 billion in federal taxes. This 2011 figure represents an 11.5 percent increase in the delinquency rate of federal employees, while the previous year the rate also increased.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has previously introduced similar legislation in the House, and the House voted last July to pass the measure.
“Instead of using the power of the state to silence and intimidate political opponents, the IRS should be focused on collecting taxes from people who are delinquent. This bill helps fill a gap created by the IRS by prohibiting the federal government from employing tax cheats. It’s wrong to force American families to fund the paychecks of federal employees who don’t feel like paying their taxes. While most federal employees are hard-working and responsible citizens who pay their taxes, others are not. According to the IRS, more 300,000 federal employees and retirees are tax delinquent. This bill also helps agencies avoid issuing indiscriminate furloughs by favoring employees who pay their taxes,” Dr. Coburn said.