IRS Sees Spike in Feds Who Owe Uncle Sam

Oleksiy Mark/

This story has been updated. 

Nearly 312,000 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in back taxes in 2011, according to The Associated Press.

The number of tax delinquent feds marks a 12 percent jump from 2010, when 279,000 employees owed $3.4 billion. Feds have a delinquency rate of 3.2 percent, 5 percent lower than that of the general public.

Most delinquent taxpayers file returns but cannot afford the full amount owed at the time, while others receive higher tax bills through audits but cannot pay them, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Employees at the Housing and Urban Development Department had the highest delinquency rate of major departments at 4.4 percent, while the Treasury Department’s workers --including those at the IRS -- had the lowest, at just 1 percent.

In the legislative branch, 3.7 percent of House employees were indebted to the IRS, while 2.7 percent of Senate workers owed back taxes, AP reported.

Though an independent agency, employees at the Government Printing Office had the highest delinquency rate of any federal entity, at 7.6 percent.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley said the lower delinquency rate among federal employees compared to the general public proves they are committed to paying their taxes on time.

“The latest IRS report on back taxes owed to the government continues to show the seriousness with which federal employees and retirees take their tax obligations,” Kelley said in a statement to Government Executive.

Earlier this year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, revived a bill he shepherded through the House in the previous session of Congress -- allowing the government to fire federal employees who fail to pay their taxes. The bill died in the Senate during the last Congress, but its new iteration sits simultaneously in the House Oversight and Government Reform and House Administration committees for consideration. 

(Image via Oleksiy Mark/

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