Federal employees still owe billions in unpaid taxes

Federal employees owe nearly $2.54 billion in delinquent taxes, according to a report by the Internal Revenue Service.

The annual report is part of the IRS' Federal Employee/Retiree Delinquency Initiative, created in 1993 to address federal employee tax compliance problems, such as owing a balance or failing to file a tax return. The report aims to make delinquent federal employees more accountable to the taxpayers who fund their salaries. The IRS does not disclose the names of delinquent employees, but does attempt to contact them.

Last year, federal employees owed a total of nearly $2.46 billion in back taxes. This year, almost every federal agency's noncompliance rates were lower than in 1999. Overall, 2.96 percent of federal agencies' employees are considered tax-delinquent. Overall, 5.75 percent of taxpayers in the country are delinquent.

Nearly 40 percent of delinquent feds are paying off their back taxes in installments, compared to about 20 percent of the general taxpayer population.

Among Cabinet departments, the State Department has the highest percentage of tax delinquent employees at 4.96 percent, down from 6.27 percent in 1999. Among independent agencies, the Inter-American Foundation topped the charts with nearly 10 percent of its staff listed as delinquent. The African Development Foundation, which in 1999 had close to a 21 percent staff delinquency rate, the most of any independent agency, had no delinquent employees in 2000.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti sent letters to every agency head listing each organization's percentage of employees that are delinquent in paying their taxes. In the letter, Rossotti encouraged agency heads to make their employees aware of the agency's tax noncompliance problem. "Together we can improve tax compliance and help foster public confidence in government," he wrote.

At the IRS, 1.68 percent of employees had outstanding tax payments due, down from 1.87 percent in 1999. Tax Delinquency by Agency, 2000

Department Percentage of Employees Delinquent Money Owed to IRS
State 4.96% $4.8 million
Commerce 4.68% $19 million
Education 4.58% $3.4 million
Housing and Urban Development 4.23% $6.4 million
Veterans Affairs 3.98% $86.3 million
Defense 3.88% $213.8 million
Labor 3.73% $10.8 million
Health and Human Services 3.47% $23.7 million
Interior 2.46% $16.5 million
Transportation 2.43% $20.2 million
Energy 2.29% $3.5 million
Agriculture 2.20% $18.4 million
Treasury 1.93% $19.7 million
Justice 1.74% $17.3 million

Tax Delinquency by Agency, 1999

Department Percentage of Employees Delinquent Money Owed to IRS
Education 9.26% $3 million
Housing and Urban Development 8.56% $6 million
Labor 7.71% $10 million
Veterans Affairs 7.60% $95 million
Defense 7.34% $217 million
Health and Human Services 7.18% $19 million
Commerce 6.43% $15 million
State 6.27% $3 million
Transportation 4.76% $20 million
Interior 4.52% $15 million
Energy 4.51% $3.5 million
Justice 3.96% $17 million
Agriculture 3.96% $17 million
Treasury 3.80% $18 million
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