Mr. Chaffetz is now in his second term, and in the majority. But his first term was spent in the minority, and, with Nancy Pelosi in charge of the House, a freshman Republican had less to do than the people in the Ethics office. Chaffetz tried something novel – he spent some of his time reading the documents that were sent to him. Apparently, he didn’t realize that most Congressmen don’t read much of anything – including the bills for which they vote. Eventually he came upon the annual report of tax delinquents; and, given his prior experience as a private citizen, he immediately suspected something fishy. When he investigated the issue, he found that nobody in Congress cared enough to put a stop to this. Chaffetz knew that Pelosi was far more concerned with sticking it to the taxpayers of America than collecting the taxes on her own employees, so he waited until the Republicans took over the House.
He now has introduced a bill that gives every department the authority to terminate employees who don’t pay their taxes. When I asked him why the bill doesn’t require the employee to be fired, he replied that the Democrats would never agree to that, principally because they were concerned that key people might be among the debtors. I then wondered aloud whether federal workers could then say “You can’t fire me or make me pay my taxes because I am too important.”
The bill is structured on IRS rules put in place in 1998 – mainly because the IRS itself used to have a large number of non-payers. Once they instituted a rule that employees could be fired, the number of tax cheats dropped by 90%. Apparently, the fear of having to find real job in the private sector was so dreadful that they paid up.
The bill has been voted out of sub-committee and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has authored a similar bill in the Senate. Maybe the Undertaker (Harry Reid) will allow this to be one of the three or four pieces of legislation he lets come to the floor this year.
Many Americans probably never thought a problem like this could exist. Then again, if you’re a true cynic, you knew it would happen. But here’s some advice: whenever you have the pleasure of interacting with one of our fine federal employees, you might want to check whether they are late on their taxes before answering any questions.