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Rep. Chaffetz proposes firing federal workers who are tax cheats

By Joe Davidson
Eric Rich

By The Post's Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson:

If you work for Uncle Sam, but you don’t pay him after he pays you, look out for Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R- Utah).

“Fire Federal Employees Who Are Not Paying Their Federal Income Taxes.” That’s the headline on a news release Chaffetz issued Wednesday, announcing legislation that would terminate federal workers who have a “seriously delinquent tax debt.” Currently, only IRS staffers can be dismissed if they don’t pay their taxes.

“Federal employees have an obvious obligation to pay their federal income taxes,” said Chaffetz. “Because they draw their compensation from the American taxpayers, federal employees owe it to the taxpayers themselves to pay their taxes. If not, they should be fired.”

He doesn’t say how they might pay that debt after losing their jobs. The legislation also would block the federal hiring of applicants who are seriously behind on their taxes.

Citing IRS data, the Chaffetz release said nearly 100,000 federal civilian employees owed $962 million in unpaid federal income taxes in 2008. With retirees and military personnel included, the numbers come to more than 276,000 people owing $3 billion.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Joe Davidson  | March 3, 2010; 1:03 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Workplace Issues  
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I think that is perfectly exceptable. But I think that the same should apply to any government official that doesn't pay their taxes!

Posted by: MyOpion1 | March 3, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Add in executives of all banks and private companies that receive bailout funds and then maybe this is fair.

Posted by: fmjk | March 3, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Does this apply to Congress, also?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | March 3, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Good idea, especially if includes members of the Administration and Congress!!!!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | March 3, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

LOL..Judging from 30 yrs in various federal agencies in DC, I am willing to say the DC federal work force would shrink by 25% AND keep right on ticking at the same speed.

Posted by: Ratzoe | March 3, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

So a marine deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan gets "fired" because he didn't pay his taxes? Why don't these nontaxpayers simply be at the mercy of existing tax evasion laws like everyone else?

Posted by: laelyn | March 3, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

When I was a Federal employee over 25 years ago, there was a process where an employee's wages could be garnished to pay back the government or a court system. The program still may exist to garnish wages when an outstanding debt exists for child support.

If there are over 100,000 people who owe the government money, perhaps, garnishing their wages would help the government obtain that money.

Posted by: cmvoorhees | March 3, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

And this from the anti-tax crowd.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 3, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I thnk Rep. Chaffetz is wonderful, but believe a wage garnishment process should be part of the employment contract with the Federal Government. This way, employees would not need to be sued civilly to have wages garnished. Rather, the government could immediately garnish a certain percent of income based on the debt. Certainly, employee appeals should be allowed to a certain degree.

Posted by: fighterDC | March 3, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

This better include MOC's. Heck, fire them regardless. Better off without the whole lot.

Posted by: Slipjac | March 3, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for it as long as elected officials are included. Mind you if I was getting shot at in the middle east in the armed forces I might forget to file!

Posted by: FLvet | March 3, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

And while we're at it, is there some reason we can't garnish the retiree and military personnel checks, too? Really, it only seems fair.

Posted by: LAM1 | March 3, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Let's start with Charles Rangle.

Posted by: 15of18 | March 3, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Why fire them? How will the government collect their due? Why not prohibit the future hiring, promotion, and wage increase of folk with unpaid tax obligations, and expedite the wage garnishment procedure for ALL citizens to eliminate this abuse?
While we are at it, why not adjust the tax withholding rates to reflect past behaviours (cheats and thieves pay more, honest citizens get the best available rate).

Posted by: jmtrunzo | March 3, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree with 15of18 - The first federal employee fired for tax evasion should be Congressman Charles Rangel, who allegedly failed to pay taxes on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Posted by: waally | March 3, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Exactly what does it mean to say that 100,000 federal employees "owed taxes" in 2008? Did they not file, under withhold, lose an appeal or what? When the Internal Revenue Service has reached a final decision that someone as easily located as a federal employee owes back taxes, the IRS usually does not have that much trouble collecting.

Posted by: Cassopolis | March 3, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Tax delinquency comes in many forms, and may involve contested amounts. You don't fire people when the debt may actually be an error, legally challenged, etc. Normal collection practices should be applied. The IRS need to put teeth into their efforts.

Posted by: 189AROD | March 3, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

So they can be fired for not paying taxes but not for not working. Amazing.

Posted by: member5 | March 3, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

If we are going to fire federal employees, you first better have the right information. The IRS computers need to be updated to convey the correct dollar figures. If you call in WA, DC, MD, VA, NY, NJ, TX, CA those computers better be accurate. Also do these numbers include what? People who have payment plans, people who never filed, people who are in appeal? Exactly what do you mean when you say owe taxes? You can owe taxes and be paying taxes. Clarification needs to be made. How about the private contractors working for the government, there are surely more of them than federal workers that owe taxes too! I hope that you can go after the BIG guns on Capital Hill first. But this is never the case. Get the little fish who owe little amounts, and never get the BIG fish who profit from cheating the government.

Posted by: dihcroepac | March 3, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

During the first Bush administration I had an agency Director who once was Bush's personal secretary. When the IRS would put out the list of supposedly deadbeat Feds, she would jump up and down as though her pants were on fire. Upon closer scrutiny, the "deadbeat" list included many employees who were on mutually agreed payment agreements with the IRS and were current with their payments.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | March 3, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a single problem with this idea, as long as members of Congress are also included in it, and are summarily dismissed from Congress in some way if they fail to pay their taxes...

Posted by: Eleiana | March 3, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I agree with wage garnishing, and prevention of hiring those who owe excessive taxes into government. What Chaffetz is saying doesn't make sense. There aren't any jobs to go around these days, so those who are fired go on unemployment. Taxpayers will still pay these people, and the taxes owed will never be retrieved in any form.

Posted by: mrasmith8 | March 3, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I hope the voters in Utah get tired of paying for this guys tuition on Capitol Hill. Maybe they'll vote for someone who will write meaningful legislation.

Posted by: mrasmith8 | March 3, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Great idea. Let's start with Timothy Geithner.

Posted by: lydgate | March 3, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

"Add in executives of all banks and private companies that receive bailout funds and then maybe this is fair.
Posted by: fmjk"

Fair as in politically. The take my pet issue for my vote type politics that is ruining our democracy and all sense of law.

This is a good bill. It shouldn't need to be loaded with pork and junk. Pass it!

Posted by: cprferry | March 3, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

"And this from the anti-tax crowd.
Posted by: jckdoors"

I don't get this. Nor do I get the Democrats' complaints about Bunning's request for pay-go. Because one wants a stronger action, they can not utilize or seek to secure the weaker protections?

Also, note that one of the anti-tax people's arguments are the unfair exemptions and politically-gamed tax credits. Requiring those that make and define tax law to pay their own taxes seems like a reasonable and necessary request.

Posted by: cprferry | March 4, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

What a joke. Tax demands from elitist politicians who themselves rarely pay their fare share. Let's start with the US Senate and House of Representatives first.

Posted by: kdkraus | March 4, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

Chaffetz is an idiot. He should go back to Utah to his 10 wives and leave decent society alone.

Posted by: MPersow | March 4, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Can Rep. Chaffetz point to the specific IRS data he refers to in his claim that "100,000 federal civilian employees owed $962 million in unpaid federal income taxes in 2008"? Didn't Sen. Joe McCarthy once claim to have a list of 250 Communists in the federal government, but couldn't produce the list? If Chaffetz is going to make such a strong allegation, he needs to be ready to back it up.

Chaffetz's announcement is a video on his site and on YouTube.

Posted by: Livelongandprosper | March 4, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

IRS staffers already are held to this standard, whether or not they actually deal with tax stuff directly (they get audited every year to check for fraud, yippee).

Shouldn't be too hard to expand that program, really....

I may not agree with the guy's political views on other things, but Rep. Chaffetz ran for Congress as a fiscal conservative and from what I've gotten wind of seems to be sticking to that.

Posted by: | March 8, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

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