H.R. 249: Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013

H.R. 249

Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013

Date
April 15, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, April 15, 2013, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 249, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on January 15, 2013 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and sequentially referred to the Committees on Oversight & Government Reform and House Administration, with the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform having primary jurisdiction.  The Committee on Oversight & Government Reform held a mark up and reported the bill by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 249 provides that persons having seriously delinquent tax debts shall be ineligible for Federal employment.  The bill defines seriously delinquent tax debts as, “an outstanding debt under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for which a notice of lien has been filed in public records…”  Exceptions are provided in four circumstances if: (1) debts are being paid in a timely manner; (2) a collection due process hearing is requested or pending; (3) a levy has been issued for such debt; or (4) relief is granted.  The bill applies to the Executive and Legislative branches, as well as the Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission.

Under the bill, any person with a seriously delinquent tax debt is ineligible to be appointed or continue serving in the federal government.  Each applicant for employment is required to certify that they do not have any seriously delinquent tax debt.  The bill contains an amendment exempting from termination employees who are working to resolve their tax debt, and allows agencies to exempt individuals under a financial hardship waiver when their employment is in the interest of the United States.

The bill also gives authority to the Office of Personnel Management to craft relevant regulations, while ensuring that the due process and privacy rights of employees are respected.

Background

Most taxpayers file accurate tax returns and pay the taxes they owe on time, regardless of their income.  Federal employees and individuals applying for federal employment should do the same.  In 2011, the most recent year for which Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data is available, 107,658 civilian federal employees owed more than $1 billion in taxes.  The average delinquency rate for federal civilian employees was 3.62 percent, up from 3.33 percent in 2010.

The Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013 addresses this area of non-compliance with our tax laws by prohibiting individuals with seriously delinquent tax debt, who are not making a good faith effort to pay their taxes or dispute them, from federal civilian employment.  By requiring accountability from federal employees and those seeking to serve in the federal government, H.R. 249 will help to foster and restore public confidence in the federal workforce. 

The House passed identical legislation (H.R. 828) in the 112th Congress on July 31, 2012 by a vote of 263-114 (roll no. 538).

Cost

CBO estimates that H.R. 249 would “cost $1 million in 2014 and less than $500,000 in subsequent years to create certification forms, develop new regulations, and review records of current and prospective employees,” assuming the availability of appropriated funds.  Because of the potential to “affect direct spending by agencies not funded through annual appropriations,” pay-as-you-go procedures apply.