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/

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

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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