4/17/13: On Monday, legislation requiring the federal government to fire federal employees if they have a tax debt failed to garner the necessary number of votes for passage in the House of Representatives. The legislation, H.R. 249, the “Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013,” was considered on the Suspension Calendar, which requires a two-thirds majority vote of the members present for passage. The final vote was 250-159, thus falling short of the necessary votes needed. House rejection of H.R. 249 is a reversal from the previous Congress, which approved identical legislation last July.
NTEU strongly opposed this unfair and unnecessary legislation, and in advance of the House vote wrote to every member of the House outlining our opposition. We noted that requiring federal employees who are already facing a three-year pay freeze and unpaid furloughs, to immediately pay back taxes or be terminated, while exempting members of Congress, is unfair, and may ultimately increase the likelihood that the government will never receive the taxes it is owed. We also noted that the legislation is unnecessary as the compliance rate among federal workers is more than 96%, much higher than for the American public, and that there are already a number of laws and regulations in place that address tax debts owed by federal employees.
NTEU believes every federal employee should pay their taxes in a timely manner. But we believe requiring the firing of federal employees that owe back taxes, while exempting members of Congress is unfair, and will only lessen the ability of federal employees to meet their financial obligations. It is possible that this legislation could come up again for a vote in the House or as an amendment in the Senate, and NTEU will be sure to keep you apprised of any developments on this important issue.