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Now that we’re well into tax season, we thought this would be a good time for a tax cheat edition of our ongoing “Bureaucrats Behaving Badly” series!
Today’s episode features the unfortunate situation where both current and retired employees of the U.S. federal government aren’t paying the taxes they owe to the U.S. government. Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in unpaid taxes last year, a $200 million increase over the previous year, the IRS said Tuesday.
Almost 305,000 federal workers and retirees owed back taxes as of Sept. 30. That’s down from 318,000 the year before.
Doing some quick math, the average amount of federal taxes owed per delinquent bureaucrat has risen from $10,377.36 to $11,475.41 in the last year. So while there are about 13,000 fewer deadbeat bureaucrats than last year, the ones who aren’t paying their taxes this year are worse.
Ohlemacher identifies the best and worst federal government departments and branches for tax deadbeats:
Among executive departments, workers at the Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rate, at 4.7 percent. Workers at the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest delinquency rate, at 1.2 percent….
In Congress, House employees had a higher delinquency rate than Senate workers. About 5 percent of House employees owed back taxes, compared to just 3.5 percent of Senate workers.
Among active duty military, just 1.4 percent owed back taxes, the IRS said.
Ohlemacher explains why the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), whose serial misconduct in its operations has become well known in recent years, has managed to achieve such a low delinquency rate for tax payments among its own employees, while at the same time contributing to the higher delinquency rates seen at other government departments through its practices:
Tax compliance at the IRS is generally better than at other federal agencies in part because the IRS cannot share information about tax delinquents with other departments. A 1998 law calls for removing IRS employees who are found to have intentionally committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful failure to pay federal taxes.
As an institution, the IRS does not provide the same level of tax law policing to other government agencies as it is compelled to maintain by law for itself. Even so, the IRS has serious problems with its self-policing, where the agency has established the practice of awarding generous bonuses to its own delinquent-on-their-income-taxes employees.