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Federal workers owe billions in back taxes

Two percent of the president's staff, 3% of the Senate staff and 4.2% of the House staff are among the 279,000 U.S. government employees who owe the IRS a cumulative $3.4 billion.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 27, 2012 1:35PM

This post is by Ken Thomas of The Associated Press.


President Barack Obama has preached that all Americans should pay their fair share in taxes, but a government report finds that tens of thousands of federal employees -- from staffers in Congress to those in federal agencies and even Obama's executive office -- collectively owe the government billions in back taxes.


Data from the Internal Revenue Service show that more than 279,000 federal employees and retirees owed $3.4 billion in back income taxes as of Sept. 30, 2010.


The data includes 467 employees of the House of Representatives, or about 4.2% of the workforce, who owed more than $8.5 million. In the Senate, 217 employees, or about 3% of the workforce, owed $2.13 million.


Obama's staff was not immune, either, with 36 people in Obama's executive office of nearly 1,800 workers -- about 2% -- owing the government a total of $833,970 in back taxes.


Obama used part of his State of the Union address Tuesday night to promote economic fairness, arguing for changes in the tax code that would create a minimum tax rate of at least 30% on anyone making more than $1 million. The finances of one of his chief Republican rivals, Mitt Romney, have come under close scrutiny. Romney, like many millionaires, gets most of his income came from investments, so is taxed at a lower rate.

The IRS report attracted the attention of Republicans, who said it undercut the president's argument on taxes. "If Obama wants people to pay their 'fair share,' perhaps he should start with his own staff," tweeted Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.


White House officials noted that the delinquency rate among executive office staff had fallen from nearly 3% in 2008. In 2009, 41 employees in the president's executive office, representing about 2.3% of its workforce, owed a total of about $830,000.


White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said the annual report was released by the IRS because there is a "high standard for government employees."


"Though the report shows that fewer executive office employees owe taxes than in the last year of the previous administration and we expect all employees to pay their taxes in full, more needs to be done to ensure compliance, and the president has asked his team to work on this issue," Brundage said.


Overall, the total amount owed is up slightly from September 2009, when more than 282,000 federal workers owed $3.3 billion in taxes.


The report does not offer specific explanations for the delinquencies. Many people who owe back taxes file returns but cannot pay the full amount when their taxes are due, said Anthony Burke, an IRS spokesman. Others may be disputing their bills, may have filed jointly with a spouse who owes taxes or may have had their tax bills increased by an audit and cannot pay the higher amount.


The statistics on federal employees do not include those who are on payment plans.


The IRS doesn't provide a comparable delinquency rate for income taxes paid by the public.


Among Cabinet agencies, the departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rates, at nearly 4%. The Treasury Department had the lowest delinquency rate, at nearly 1%.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Jan 27, 2012 3:42PM
Attach their wages. Put a lein on their houses and properties. That's what would happen to the "average" American worker.
Jan 27, 2012 4:33PM
I earn $28,000 a year and I pay my taxes! I work for county government. The Indiana state board of accounts requires that wages be garnished if county workers have not paid property taxes, etc.  Seems to me that big-time garnishments are in order in Washington!
Jan 27, 2012 4:01PM
One has to wonder why they can't pay their taxes? They pay for no benefits and they are supposed to have enough taken from their checks in witholding to cover them. These deadbeats should be subject to the same tactics that the IRS uses on the rest of the US taxpayers if they are delinquent, etc. Perhaps some of them have a legitimate reason, but I sense that these people have a sense of entitlement and don't think that tax laws apply to them, especially if they are liberats!
Jan 27, 2012 3:47PM

Amen, Jean Nasatka!!!

Place automatic yearly audits on all federal politicians. Remind them that they are SERVANTS of the CITIZENS of America.

Jan 27, 2012 4:42PM
They should be terminated ........that would be fair

Their pensions should be attached for the amount owed.......that would be fair
Jan 27, 2012 4:00PM
I don't understand what the problem is, just take it out of their pay.    Then after that is done terminate them for stealing.  The government is their employer and they owe the money to them.  The should be responsible for their actions.  If I took money from my employer I get fired, plain and simple and I still have to make restitution. 
Jan 27, 2012 4:46PM
As a federal employee, a error on my taxes recently caused me to owe the irs. They were more than happy to contact me and let me know about the penalties and interest i was responsible for.  The error was discovered about 10 months after i filed my return, so of course they got all that i owed them the following year from my return. Don't understand how these other federal employees are getting away with this. They need to pay their taxes. 
Jan 27, 2012 8:02PM
No one working for the Federal Government should owe taxes and if they work in the house or congress they should be let go! The government is held tp a higfher standard  and if its not met then heads should roll!
Jan 27, 2012 4:35PM
Hello???? What in god's name are they waiting for?  They should pay the back taxes or be fired!
Jan 27, 2012 6:34PM
Why don't the IRS treat these folks like everyone else.  If you don't pay your taxes you get your paychecks garnished and/or a lien put on your house or property until it's paid in full, plus interest and penalties.  I mean .... after all ... we DO all want "equality" don't we?  Need I mention Turbo Tax Tim Geithner?  Oh yeah ... that's right when he didn't pay his taxes they put him in charge of the IRS.   Anyone see anything wrong with this picture? Bunch of crony hypocrites! 
Jan 27, 2012 4:57PM
I find this to be disturbing, but even more, this is only the tip of the iceberg.  The total amount of unpaid taxes, both govn't and non-govn't people has to be enormous.  I hate taxes and extremely wastful government spending as much as the next guy. I scream, whine, and kick my feet about the amount I have to pay in taxes but I pay them.  In the end, the people that pay end up footing the bill for the ones that don't.  No different than in private markets, the losses taken by lenders of credit because of dead beats are passed onto the people that pay their bills and debt payments on time!!
Jan 27, 2012 4:22PM
There are way too many federal employees.  There's no damn way the White House needs 1800 people.  Every single employee that owes back taxes should be terminated immediately, along with their boss.
Jan 27, 2012 4:15PM

RE: Buffett's Secretary


She pays 35%, she makes between 200,000.00 and 500,000.00, and pays her taxes on that. I have never earned $200,000.00. I would be thrilled to have her salary, and would gladly give up 35%. Let's see That would be $130, 000.00 after taxes, I would live well!!! 

Jan 27, 2012 4:01PM
Jail them all to make an example..........
Jan 27, 2012 6:12PM
When Geithner can't figure out how much he owes, then we need to get rid of the income tax.  The Fair Tax is the answer.
Jan 27, 2012 7:31PM

How come someone always comes to the defense of union/government workers? What bothers me is that the president and congress (both parties) always talk about cutting payments to older retired people but never discuss changing the government's 25 ot 30 year retirement plan with great benefits. The only way to make it fair is put everyone on SS including congress! They'd fix the issues then. I know the liberals that work for the government will complain that this is unfair but why? Why should taxpayers without a retirement plan, fund one for the people they pay in most case better than they make themselves.


Jan 27, 2012 4:35PM

Backgrounds and credit checks are required in the "private" sector, and may preclude one from a career or advancement, in some cases lead to termination.  We should demand more of those placed in the positions of "trust" overseeing the daily affairs of all the people of this Country!

Quoting Chaucer, "....if they are foul in whom we trust, no wonder that the common man should rust..."  They need to pay all of their taxes including back taxes with penalty & interest by April 15th or loose their positions and allow those more ethical & deserving to take over!  A large, corrupt federal government vaunts itself and leads its people with tyranny! 

Jan 27, 2012 4:50PM
Maybe the Federal government can figure out who the Federal employer is and start garnishing their Federal wages..... but probably not.  It's complicated.
Jan 27, 2012 3:53PM
These RULES are for WE THE PEOPLE not OBAMA and his friends.
Jan 27, 2012 8:02PM

Who are these "lucky" Federal workers?  I pay taxes every year and boy have they been increasing.  This year I will pay about 33% and by the way if I don't keep current with my $900.00 per month student and parent loan payments, I will be fired!


IRS do your freaking job and go after these Federal deadbeats!  


Obama is not responsible for everyones behavior! Just ask Wesley Snipes!  Oh he's in jail you gotta wait.   Many Tea Party people don't pay taxes either and the list goes on.  Personal responsibility comes independent of party affiliation.  When found out suffer personal conquences!

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