Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sliming federal workers

Senators Claire McClaskill and Tom Coburn have decided to call out federal workers about their delinquent taxes.
While millions of Americans continue to send back portions of their hard earned wages to Washington, many federal employees are failing to contribute their share.

...In 2009, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) found nearly 100,000 civilian federal employees were delinquent on their federal income taxes, owing over $1 billion in unpaid federal income taxes.

In response to this overwhelming problem, the senators have introduced legislation that would fire any federal employee who doesn't pay his or her taxes.

How bad exactly is this problem? There were 2.8 million federal employees at the end of 2009. If 100,000 were behind or short on their taxes, that would imply a delinquency rate of 3.5 percent (the figure is actually lower because the Senators have rounded their number of federal tax delinquents up).

How does this compare to the rest of the population? At the end of 2009, there were 236.9 million noninstitutionalized civilians aged 16 or older. Let's use this as the tax-owing population (this adds lots of teenagers and people with very low incomes who don't pay taxes but also omits the military and some institutionalized people who might owe taxes). The IRS reports that there were 13.2 million delinquent tax returns in 2009. Subtracting out the federal workers and their delinquent taxes, this translates to a non-federal delinquency rate of 5.6 percent.

So, federal employees were 37 percent less likely to be delinquent on their taxes than other Americans. For this, they have the privilege of being slimed by Senators McClaskill and Coburn.