Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes at the end of last year, a sliver of the $1 billion owed by federal workers nationwide but one with potential political ramifications for members of Congress.
The debt among Hill employees has risen at a faster rate than the overall tax debt on the government’s books, according to Internal Revenue Service data. It comes at a time when some Republican members are pushing for the firings of government workers who owe the IRS and President Obama has urged a crackdown on delinquent government contractors.
The IRS data does not identify delinquent taxpayers by name, party affiliation or job title and does not indicate whether any members of Congress are among the scofflaws. It shows 638 employees, or about 4 percent, of the 18,000 Hill workers owe money, a slightly higher percentage than the 3 percent delinquency rate among all returns filed nationwide.
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The average unpaid tax bill is $12,787 among the Senate’s delinquent taxpayers and $15,498 among those working in the House.
IRS debt among government workers has surfaced as a political issue repeatedly over the years, most recently when Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced legislation this year to fire federal workers who owe back taxes unless they have entered into a payment plan. Eight Republicans co-sponsored the bill. No Democrats have signed on, and some have said firings would reduce the government’s prospects of being paid.
“If you’re on the federal payroll and you’re not paying your taxes, you should be fired,” Chaffetz said in an interview. He said the policy should apply across the board and “there should be no special exemptions.”
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