A bipartisan group of Senators on Thursday introduced legislation that would ban the federal government from employing or hiring people with large, unpaid tax debts.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., would require all federal employees to be “current” on their federal income taxes, and would prohibit the government from employing others with “seriously delinquent debt.”
“It’s wrong to force American families to fund the paychecks of federal employees who don’t feel like paying their taxes,” Coburn said in a statement. “While most federal employees are hard-working and responsible citizens who pay their taxes, others are not. “
According to Bloomberg News, the number of tax-delinquent federal workers increased by 11.5 percent in 2011, amounting to 311,566 employees who owe a combined $3.5 billion in back taxes. Among large Cabinet level agencies, the Housing and Urban Development Department had the highest delinquency rate, with 4.4 percent of its employees owing taxes. Only 2 percent of active duty military personnel owed taxes, according to Bloomberg.
The proposed legislation is similar to a bill introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, earlier this year and during the previous congressional session. The legislation passed the House last year but failed in the Senate. This year, House lawmakers rejected the bill in mid-April.