Being a retired federal employee, who was told from Day 1 of employment that if I failed to pay my just debts (including my taxes) I risked losing my job, it really irritates me to know how many current federal employees aren’t paying their taxes. According to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, there are over 100,000 federal employees who owe over $1 billion in taxes for 2012. In addition, employees of the House and Senate currently owe over $10 million. And while records of our elected officials’ (and appointed officials’) back taxes aren’t easy to find, they are out there. Charlie Rangel had tax problems a couple of years ago. As did Tom Daschle and our former Treasury Secretary, Tim “Turbo Tax” Geithner. The only one it really hurt was Daschle.
As I said – I was told from Day 1 that if I didn’t pay my debts, including my taxes, I could lose my job. Of course, working in a prison, a debt could easily be a liability that could lead to being compromised. But it was more than that. It was about integrity. And it should be that way for all federal employees who are working for the people and being paid by the people.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R), Utah, has introduced the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act, which basically says if you’re a federal employee and don’t pay your taxes you can be fired. (According to what I’ve read, the only federal agency who has that specific rule at the present time is the IRS. In law enforcement it falls under “just debts” and doesn’t specifically say “taxes”.) In a TV interview last night Congressman Chaffetz said “If someone is actively working to pay their back taxes this won’t affect them. But if they’re not they will be fired.”
And rightly so, in my humble opinion.
Chaffetz went on. "The very least an individual on the federal payroll can do is pay their taxes," he said in a news release. "If you are thumbing your nose up at the American taxpayer by not paying your taxes, you should be fired or not awarded a federal contract."
The bill would require individuals applying for federal employment to "submit certification that such person does not have any seriously delinquent tax debt."
I say it’s about time. Anyone who is being paid by the American people (about half of us, at least) should be required to maintain their tax status current or risk losing their position of public trust. Sure, anyone can get behind due to a little mismanagement and/or not having the correct withholding amount on your W-4. But if you have the government take the right amount from the beginning you never have to worry about it. So I really don’t understand how there could be so many people owing so much money. How does that happen?
Maybe I sound cold hearted about this, wanting federal employees to lose their jobs. But I expect all federal employees to live up to the same standards that were required of me, particularly if I pay their salaries. If I no longer paid taxes maybe I wouldn’t worry about it. No, that’s not true. We’re talking $1 billion in funds which could easily pay the bill for starting the White House tours up again, or keep a multitude of federal employees from being furloughed. And they’ll probably save over $1 million more if they fire the 100,000 who aren’t paying those taxes. Then they can go after them anyway.
Bottom line – if you’re going to accept a position of trust with the government then you have a responsibility to follow the laws of the land. You have that same responsibility regardless of where you work but federal employees are supposed to be honest and have integrity. It’s part of every federal position. Is it too much to ask that it be enforced for all?