WASHINGTON – 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.
The delinquency rate was 3.1 per cent for the 9.8 million workers and retirees included in the data. That’s down from 3.3 per cent the previous year.
The IRS compiles data each year on unpaid taxes by federal workers. The data does not include workers who have enrolled in installment agreements to pay their back taxes.
Among executive departments, workers at the Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rate, at 4.7 per cent. Workers at the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest delinquency rate, at 1.2 per cent.
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 wilful failure to pay federal taxes.
Compared to the general public, federal workers are more likely to pay their federal taxes.
The IRS does not yet have data on the general public for 2014. But in previous years, the delinquency rate for the general public was between 8 per cent and 9 per cent — much higher than the rate for federal employees, the IRS said.
In Congress, House employees had a higher delinquency rate than Senate workers. About 5 per cent of House employees owed back taxes, compared to just 3.5 per cent of Senate workers.
Among active duty military, just 1.4 per cent owed back taxes, the IRS said.
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