Tax Delinquent Bill Aimed at Federal Workers Passes House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

April 15, 2011

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Anti-labor legislators are endorsing another measure aimed at federal employees — including postal workers. On April 13, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darryl Issa (R-CA), approved The Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2011,  which would require the Postal Service and other federal agencies to terminate any employee who is delinquent in his or her federal taxes.

The bill would exempt workers on active military duty and employees who are making a “good faith” effort to pay their taxes.

Support for the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on Feb. 28, was split along party lines. Democratic representatives deemed the measure unnecessary, as existing laws allow for garnishment procedures in cases of unpaid taxes. They also pointed out that terminating delinquent employees would be counterproductive, because it would deny the government any real opportunity to collect taxes from fired workers.

Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) offered an amendment that would have excluded postal workers from the measure because they are not paid with tax dollars. He also argued that any actions taken against postal workers would be subject to their collective bargaining process. Those arguments fell on deaf ears and the amendment was defeated by Republicans on the committee.

The only concession was the adoption of an amendment that would require a waiting period before the termination process begins. The delay would give employees the opportunity to pay the delinquent taxes or challenge the liability. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) offered an amendment calling for a 90-day waiting period, but the committee settled on 60 days.

Despite acknowledgement by both parties that more than 96 percent of current federal and postal employees pay their taxes on time, the bill will now go before the full House for a vote. A companion bill, S. 376, has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Reform.

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