More than 100,000 employees in the federal workforce owe a total of $3.54 billion in federal taxes, according to 2014 data from the IRS.
Although the number of tax delinquent feds decreased by about 14,000 from 2013, the balance owed in taxes grew by about $2.3 million.
Retired members of the military appeared to be the biggest tax offenders, with a delinquency rate of 4.04 percent in 2014. The rate is calculated by dividing the number of employees who owe taxes by the total number in the workforce.
Civilian employees were a close second with a rate of 3.99 percent. That group owes a collective $1.14 billion in federal taxes.
“It is disconcerting that federal civilian employees owe more than $1 billion in back taxes,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “These employees are not exempt from their civic responsibility to fulfill tax obligations, and those who refuse to pay what they owe should be held accountable.”
Chaffetz’s committee passed the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015 Wednesday. The bill prevents agencies from hiring individuals who are tax delinquent. Under the measure, individuals applying for a job at an agency would have to submit papers proving they don’t have tax debt. The bill also gives agencies the authority to fire current feds who owe taxes to the government. The legislation says agencies cannot place a tax delinquent employee on paid administrative leave.
Chaffetz first introduced the bill in 2011, which passed the House on a vote of 263-116 but didn’t become law.
Other lawmakers have recently introduced measures with the similar goal of holding feds accountable for their taxes.
Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) introduced earlier this month the No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act. This bill would prohibit the IRS from hiring new employees until the Treasury Secretary certifies that the IRS doesn’t employ any individual with a “serious” tax debt.
Chaffetz also reintroduced Wednesday the Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2015, which prevents agencies from awarding contracts or grants to companies with tax debt. The first time Chaffetz introduced this legislation in 2013, it passed the House on a vote of 407-0, but the Senate did not vote on the bill.
“It just seems fair. It just makes sense,” Chaffetz said, as the committee held a markup of the bill Wednesday.