President Obama went on and on Tuesday about how important it was for Americans to pay their “fair share of taxes.” He can start with his own administration. The number of employees on the federal dole has swelled 13 percent on his watch, and the amount they owe in back taxes is now over $1 billion. Talk about double dipping: These bureaucrats take your tax dollars and then return nothing to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The tax man is required to send Congress an annual report on the number of serious delinquents working in each government agency. Figures released this week show 98,291 current civilian employees have a severe tax lien against them. When retirees and military personnel are included, the debt figure goes up to an astounding $3.4 billion. Without some kind of accountability, the number will grow larger.
The ironies abound. The Office of Government Ethics has one of the highest delinquency rates at 6.5 percent. You might think the U.S. Tax Court would pay its taxes, but its staff owes Uncle Sam $62,508. The Government Accountability Office has 65 employees not being held accountable. The Board of Governors for the Federal Reserves has 91 staffers who have reserved $1,265,152 in their own pockets.
The National Labor Relations Board doesn’t seem to mind the 47 on staff who are laboring only for themselves. The Office of Personnel Management isn’t doing a very good job managing its personnel, who owe the IRS $1,917,149. The Securities and Exchange Commission may be policing Wall Street, but it’s turning a blind eye to $1,146,843 in back taxes.
Overall, the highest delinquency rates are found at the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and, in a tie, the Inter-American Foundation and the United States Access Board. The highest amount owed the IRS - $269,641,265 - comes from the Postal Service (which also has the most cheaters - 25,640), Social Security Administration at $20,144,559 and the House of Representatives, with 467 cheating staffers owing $8,535,974.
In the Senate, there are 217 who owe the IRS a total of $2,134,501. There are 36 scofflaws in the Executive Office of the President, owing a total of $833,970.
Since 1993, the IRS has been able to fire any of its employees for failing to pay up. As a result, that agency has one of the lowest delinquency rates in the bureaucracy. Rep. Jason Chaffetz wants to extend that power, rewarding seriously delinquent civil servants with a pink slip. “We want compliance, and we want to get the money back,” the Utah Republican told The Washington Times.
Mr. Chaffetz said the only opposition to an expected floor vote is coming from public unions. “The only excuse I hear - and it makes me chuckle - is, ‘We want them to have their income so that they can pay their taxes.’ And my argument is, ‘But they’re not doing that now.’ “
With 8.5 percent unemployment, government jobs are more in demand than ever. “Working for the federal government is a privilege,” Mr. Chaffetz said. “A lot of people want these jobs who are good, decent, hardworking people.” No one who refuses to pay taxes should be allowed to stay in those cushy, overpaid federal positions.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.