On Tax Day, House to call for firing federal workers who owe back taxes

The House will mark April 15, the day federal taxes are due, by passing a bill that would require the government to fire federal workers with "seriously delinquent" tax debts.

Thousands of federal workers are cited each year for failing to pay their taxes on time. Last month, the IRS said more than 300,000 workers still owed $3.5 billion to the IRS for 2011.

In response, the House is expected to take up H.R. 249, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act, under a suspension of House rules. In addition to firing federal workers who still owe taxes, it would prohibit the government from hiring these people.

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The bill, from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would require federal agencies to take "appropriate measures" to ensure no one is hired with a "seriously delinquent tax debt."

"The very least an individual on the federal payroll can do is pay their taxes," Chaffetz said last month after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved his bill.

Under the bill, a "seriously delinquent tax debt" is defined as a debt for which the IRS has filed a notice of lien. It exempts people who have made arrangements to pay the IRS, and people who are still facing a due process hearing.

The House approved similar legislation last year in a 263-114 vote that saw 59 Democrats join with Republicans to pass the bill. The Senate never considered the bill in the last Congress.

Also today, the House is expected to pass another Chaffetz tax bill, the Contracting and Tax Accountability Act. This bill, H.R. 882, would require government contractors to certify that they don't have delinquent tax debts.

"If you are thumbing your nose up at the American taxpayer by not paying your taxes, you should be fired or not awarded a federal contract," Chaffetz said in March.

Both tax bills will be taken up under a suspension of House rules, which means a two-thirds majority vote will be needed. The House will consider two other bills today under the same process:

— H.R. 1162, the GAO Improvement Act, which would increase the authority of the Comptroller General to collect agency records as part of an audit or investigation, and

— H.R. 1246, the District of Columbia CFO Vacancy Act, to allow the District to install an acting CFO if that position is vacant.

The Senate starts work at 2 p.m., and while some debate could be heard on the gun control bill the Senate started last week, the big event of the day is a 5:30 p.m. vote on the nomination of Beverly O'Connell to be a district judge for the Central District of California.