Lawmaker promotes crackdown on tax delinquent feds

A Senate Republican is renewing efforts to hold federal workers with delinquent tax payments accountable.

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma on Wednesday introduced legislation, S. 3790, that would make government workers with outstanding tax debts ineligible for continued federal employment. A separate bill, S. 3792, would hold lawmakers accountable for unpaid taxes.

Lawmakers would be required to report outstanding liabilities. They would then be subject to an ethics investigation and their salaries would be reduced based on the amount owed. The bill would exclude employees and legislators who agree to repay delinquent taxes, or who are challenging the claims through the Internal Revenue Service or courts.

"Legislators and government employees should not be exempt from the laws they write and enforce," Coburn said in a statement. "The very nature of 'public service' demands those being paid by taxpayers contribute their fair share of taxes. They should lead by example, or be held accountable if they believe they are above the law."

IRS data shows 100,000 civilian federal employees owed more than $1 billion in federal income taxes in 2009.

Coburn's bill is not the first congressional effort to crack down on tax delinquents in the federal workforce. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in March introduced similar legislation (H.R. 4735) to ban employees who owe taxes from federal service. Chaffetz's bill also creates an exception for federal employees who are settling their debt under a payment plan, or who have requested or are awaiting the results of a collection due process hearing. Legislation (H.R. 572) Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., sponsored would prohibit government contractors that carry more than $100,000 in tax debt from receiving contracts or grants. Both measures are before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Government employee and management groups expressed concern that Coburn's bill singles out federal workers and could penalize those who accidentally make mistakes in their tax filings.

"Mandating the termination of employment is uncalled for given the existing and successful programs the government uses to collect any such debts, not to mention that such firings would make it next to impossible to collect the overdue money," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

According to Federal Managers Association National President Patricia Niehaus, the legislation is too broad and doesn't take individual workers into account.

"It is imperative we retain the flexibility to handle individual cases based on their own sets of circumstances," Niehaus said. "Sen. Coburn's bill attempts to apply a single, uncompromising solution to a complex problem, and this legislation may impact a much greater audience than intended."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.