Eye Opener: Could tax-skirting feds get fired?
Updated 1:17 p.m. ET
Happy Thursday! A Republican lawmaker plans to introduce legislation today that would allow the federal agencies to fire employees who fail to pay a significant portion of their taxes.
The bill by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) would also make any tax delinquent ineligible for appointment to a political position at federal agencies.
The Eye obtained a draft version of the bill set for release on Thursday. Employees in the process of paying back taxes or awaiting a due process hearing before the Internal Revenue Service would be exempt from the law. The measure only covers executive branch employees, because Issa's Oversight and Government Reform Committee only has jurisdiction over the Executive Branch.
As The Eye and others reported earlier this week, the IRS said federal workers owed more than $3 billion in income taxes in 2008. The IRS list accounts for tax delinquency among current and former employees of executive agencies, Congress and the military.
“There is no justifiable reason that excuses those who receive their checks from Uncle Sam to not fulfill their tax obligations," Issa said. "It is a slap-in-the-face to every federal worker who plays by the rules and diligently meets their tax obligations to have a system that looks the other way while federal employees fail to meet their tax obligations. The bill I am introducing is pretty straightforward – if you don’t pay your taxes, you won’t be able to keep your job.”
Issa's bill could be ripe for bipartisan support, considering the current economic environment and general intolerance for government waste and abuse. But it's too soon to say what if any support the bill may earn, especially since the House and Senate are bogged down in year-end spending bills and the ongoing health-care reform debate.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) also weighed in on the issue this week by asking the IRS for an accounting of what the agency is doing to collect taxes from delinquent federal employees and government contractors who receive hundreds of billions of dollars annually in Medicare and Medicaid payments.
“It’s not right for a few to shirk their obligations, and it’s especially offensive that these tax delinquencies come from federal employees and contractors,” Grassley said in a statement.
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• Cabinet and Staff News: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke tells senators rising inflation is unlikely. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton -- traveling to Copenhagen -- sees her approval rating soar. Defense Secretary Robert Gates orders a review of the military mentor program. Did an American U.N. official have plans to replace Hamid Karzai?
• More Obama Nominees Announced: On Wednesday the president tapped Marie Collins Johns to serve as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration; Gwendolyn E. Boyd to serve as a member of the board of trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation; Jonathan M. Young to serve as chair of the National Council on Disability; and Carol Jean Reynolds, Fernando Torres-Gil, Chester Alonzo Finn, Gary Blumenthal, Sara Gelser, Ari Ne'eman and Dongwoo Joseph "Joe" Pak as members of the National Council on Disability. Track Obama's nominees with The Post's Head Count and WhoRunsGov.
In other news...
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT:
• Judge asked to block wild horse roundup in Nevada: The mustang roundup planned for Dec. 28 would be one of the largest in recent years. Federal officials plan to use helicopters to force the horses into holding pens before placing them for adoption or sending them to long-term holding corrals in the Midwest.
BUREAU OF PRISONS:
• Terrorists beat the system in federal prisons: One passed messages to his followers, and another seriously and permanently injured a guard during an escape attempt.
• Downturn revises Census projections: Slowing immigration means that whites are projected to continue to comprise a majority of the U.S. population until at least 2050, eight years later than previously thought.
• Black leaders urge census to change how it counts inmates: Leaders say the practice now shortchanges communities in money and democratic representation.
• Census Bureau to advertise in Super Bowl: The agency is using the platform to nudge its huge audience to fill out forms for the 2010 count.
CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE:
• Editorial: Walpin-gate may snag Mrs. Obama: The Washington Times editorial board suggests the case of Gerald Walpin still has legs.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION:
• FTC accuses Intel of trying to stifle competition: In its complaint, the agency accused the chip maker of a systematic campaign to block rivals from selling their microchips by cutting off access to the market.
• Senate panel approves domestic benefits bill: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 8 to 1 on Wednesday to approve a bill that grants full domestic benefits to the partners of gay federal employees.
• Salary increase now law: Obama's signature on the 2009 omnibus appropriations bill gives civilian feds a 2 percent jump in pay.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
• Documents show DHS improperly spied on National of Islam: The improper activity occurred for eight months in 2007 when the leader of the black Muslim group, Louis Farrakhan, was in poor health and appeared to be yielding power.
NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD:
• Report on pilots who overshot airport: The captain of the Northwest Airlines plane that overshot its destination by 150 miles in October told agency investigators that he was “blown away” by how long he and his first officer had been distracted from their duties.
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE:
• Time for Postal Service fleet to go green?: A New York lawmaker says it's time for the mail service to start using at least 20,000 electric vehicles to stamp out the agency's environmental waste.
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION:
• SEC tightens rules on investment advisers, corporate transparency: The agency put in place two new policies aimed at avoiding a repeat of the Bernard L. Madoff fraud and addressing concerns that excessive compensation and ineffective oversight by corporate boards fueled the financial crisis.
• Pakistan reported to be harassing U.S. diplomats: The problems affected military attachés, CIA officers, development experts, junior level diplomats and others.
• New details on Obama's $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan: The administration intends to show demonstrable results soon to justify and vindicate the program, while sewing the seeds for longer-term progress all the while.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS:
• Veterans Affairs' acquisition practices come under fire: Lawmakers are considering legislation to shape up what one called "major deficiencies" in the department's contracting, in the wake of critical watchdog reports.
| December 17, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Congress, Eye Opener, Workplace Issues
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