House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman, Jason Chaffetz (UT) has introduced H.R. 396, the “Tax Accountability Act” that would require the firing of federal employees with “seriously delinquent” federal tax debt. H.R. 396 is similar to legislation introduced during the 114th Congress (H.R. 1563) that failed to garner the two-thirds majority votes needed for approval under the procedure used in the House for this bill’s consideration and thus, was not approved.
As introduced, H.R. 396 would require all federal job applicants to certify that they do not have a seriously delinquent tax debt. Seriously delinquent tax debt is defined in the bill as “a Federal tax liability that has been assessed by the Secretary of the Treasury under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and may be collected by the Secretary by levy or by a proceeding in court.”
Employees found to meet this definition would have to be fired and applicants could not be hired unless these individuals qualify for an exception, such as innocent spouse, already on an installment plan or having their salary levied. There is no dollar minimum or length of time of delinquency included in the definition. Nor is intent or ability to pay given consideration. While the bill does allow for a hardship exemption, it is only at the discretion of the agency.
NTEU believes all federal employees have an obligation to pay their taxes in a timely manner, but we believe requiring the firing of federal employees that owe back taxes, is unfair, and will only lessen the ability of federal employees to meet their financial obligations.
NTEU will continue to work to prevent this bill from being enacted and will keep you updated on any further developments.