Senators target tax evaders

Legislation co-sponsored by a Georgia senator would terminate federal employees with “seriously delinquent tax debt.”

The legislation would also prohibit federal agencies from hiring anyone who is delinquent.

“America’s taxpayers deserve to know that those individuals working within the federal government must abide by the same rules as everyone else,” U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said in a statement. “Especially at a time when Democrats in Congress are discussing the possibility of raising taxes on some, we must show that we are serious about ensuring that federal employees are following the law.”

In 2009, there were 100,000 federal employees who were delinquent on their federal income taxes, according to an IRS estimate. In total, they owed more than $1 billion in federal income taxes.

“Taxpayers are fed up with those in Washington living under a different set of rules than the rest of America,” U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said in a statement. “At a time when Congress may allow taxes to increase on some or even all Americans, Congress should not expect other Americans to pay more taxes when they are not even paying the taxes they owe under the rates they set themselves.”

Coburn has introduced two pieces of legislation. S. 3790 would bar anyone with “seriously delinquent tax debts” from federal employment while S. 3702 would “require members of Congress to disclose delinquent tax liability, require an ethics inquiry and garnish the wages of a member with federal tax liability.”

“Legislators and government employees should not be exempt from the laws they write and enforce,” Coburn said. “The very nature of ‘public service’ demands those being paid by taxpayers contribute their fair share of taxes. They should lead by example or be held accountable if they believe they are above the law.”

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has offered a similar proposal in the house. That measure failed earlier this month.

“Taxes should generally be kept low, but tax delinquency is certainly not the answer,” U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said in a news release. “Since their salaries come from the taxes paid by their fellow Americans, federal employees especially have an obligation to pay the taxes they owe. There is no excuse for Washington allowing tax dodgers to continue collecting a paycheck from taxpayers.”

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