By T.W. Farnam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 17, 2011; 7:44 PM
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is reintroducing a bill that would require federal agencies to fire employees who don't pay their taxes.
The legislation, if approved, would mean that anyone with a "seriously delinquent tax debt" could not work for the government, according to Coburn's office. He first introduced the bill in September, but it is now co-sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
A 2010 study by the Internal Revenue Service found that executive branch employees owed approximately $1 billion in back taxes. Capitol Hill staffers owed $9.3 million, a 37 percent increase over recent years.
"Taxpayers are fed up with those in Washington living under a different set of rules than the rest of America," Coburn said in a statement. "At a time when Congress may allow taxes to increase on some or even all Americans, Congress should not expect other Americans to pay more taxes when they are not even paying the taxes they owe under the rates they set themselves."
The bill comes at a time of high public anger with government spending primarily directed at public employees and their unions. President Obama has enacted a two-year pay freeze for federal workers and, in state capitals around the country, lawmakers are proposing cuts to government payrolls and pensions as a way to shrink deficits.