Monday, December 14, 2009

Federal Employees and Retirees Owe $3 Billion in Unpaid Taxes

It's that time of year again, the time when the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports on the tax delinquencies of federal employees. This year, my fellow feds owe a total of $3,042,200,000.

The agency-by-agency breakdown shows that most cabinet agency employees are reasonably law-abiding, but that only the Department of Treasury has a delinquency rate below 1 percent.

On the other end of the scale, the highest delinquency rates belong to two small specialized agencies. The National Capital Planning Commission has the highest rate of tax scofflaws, at 10.42 percent, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation was next highest, at 9.26 percent. Both agencies are staffed with architects, urban planners, and historic preservationists; is there some kind of theme there?

For a little context to this news, I note that most of the delinquencies were among civilian and military retirees and Postal Service employees. (The Postal Service is a government-owned corporation but not a government agency.) For the 1.8 million actual federal government employees the total arrears looks like roughly $665 million, which works out to an average tax delinquency of $369.44. I can't tell how that compares to tax delinquencies in the private sector, because the IRS hasn't reported on those since 2001.

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