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Federal Eye
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/31/2012

House targets unpaid taxes, charge card misuse by federal workers

Federal employees who are far behind in paying their federal taxes would face firing in certain circumstances, under a bill scheduled for a House vote this week.

Eye Opener

The Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act is one of several measures affecting federal workers that could reach a House vote as soon as late Tuesday under a streamlined process that requires a two-thirds majority for approval.

The measure would make anyone who has a “seriously delinquent” tax debt ineligible for federal employment. In general, that phrase would cover tax debts for which a notice of lien has been filed in public records, but there would be exceptions, including debts being paid in a timely manner under an installment agreement, and debts determined to be an economic hardship to the debtor.

Federal agencies would review public records to determine if a notice of lien has been filed against an employee or applicant. Employees or applicants would have two months to demonstrate that a tax debt falls under one of the exceptions. Current employees facing removal could appeal through the regular channels for challenging disciplinary actions.

Sponsors say that as of 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, more than 184,000 federal employees owed more than $1.5 billion in overdue taxes, and that less than half of them had entered into installment payment agreements.

The House also is scheduled to vote on a bill responding to a long line of investigative reports finding misuse of charge cards that the government issues to many employees for making relatively small official purchases.

That bill would require federal departments and agencies to impose new controls over purchases and more closely monitor the purchases that are made. It also would require the Office of Management and Budget to decide whether new guidance is needed on issues including firing employees who misuse the cards.

Also up for House consideration are:

•a bill clarifying that Thrift Savings Plan accounts are subject to certain federal tax levies, resolving a difference of opinion between the 401(k)-style TSP’s governing agency and the Justice Department;

•a bill promoting the assignment of more federal law enforcement officers to states and other jurisdictions with a high rate of homicide or other violent crime; and

•a bill ending the need for Senate confirmation of certain political appointees in more than two dozen federal departments and smaller agencies, and ordering a study of ways to streamline the paperwork and background investigations used in the confirmation process.

The Senate passed the bills regarding purchase cards and appointments last year but has not taken up companions to the other bills.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/31/2012

 
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