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Topics: National News

IRS: 318,000 fed workers owe $3.3B in back taxes

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Politics,News,Nation,Watchdog,Taxes,IRS

WASHINGTON (AP) — From workers in Congress and at the White House to active duty troops, more than 318,000 federal employees and retirees owe just over $3.3 billion in back taxes, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

That works out to nearly 3.3 percent of all 9.8 million federal workers and retirees who are behind on their taxes, which is significantly lower than the proportion of delinquent taxpayers in the overall population. The IRS said it estimates that to be at least 8.7 percent.

Those behind in their tax payments include 714 of the roughly 17,000 people working for the House and Senate, the agency said. IRS officials said the data used to compile the report did not indicate whether any of those delinquent taxpayers were members of Congress.

In addition, 36 of the nearly 1,800 people who work at the White House and its various agencies owe taxes, according to the IRS. The IRS provided no further breakdown of exactly where those delinquent taxpayers worked.

Even the federal judiciary branch had its share of employees with overdue taxes, 821 of them. IRS officials said the data did not indicate whether any of them were judges.

Agency officials said the IRS pursues delinquent taxes from federal workers the same way it goes after money that others owe. The agency will initially send at least two bills for the taxes it believes are due, a process that eventually can evolve into garnishing wages from paychecks or seizing property.

Almost 4.1 percent of active civilian government workers, or 116,000 of them, owe back taxes, the report said.

Among Cabinet-level departments, the highest rate of delinquency is at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where 5.3 percent are overdue.

The giant Department of Veterans Affairs, facing investigations about patients dying while awaiting medical care, has almost 15,000 workers who owe nearly $146 million in back taxes. Those numbers exceeded comparable figures for any other civilian agency.

The lowest rate of delinquency was at the Treasury Department — which includes the IRS — where 1.2 percent of workers had overdue tax bills.

Workers owing back taxes included 30,000 at the Postal Service; 81 at the Government Accountability Office, a congressional agency that audits federal programs; and 122 at the Federal Reserve, which oversees the nation's money supply.

The IRS said that 1.7 percent of active duty military personnel, some 25,000 of them, are overdue on their taxes. So are almost 2.7 percent of those in the Reserves and National Guard.

Among retirees, 2.6 percent of retired civilian workers and 4.2 percent of retired military are delinquent.

The figures are as of Sept. 30, 2013.

The overall numbers were similar to what has been measured in the recent past.

In September 2012, 310,000 federal workers and retirees owed almost $3.4 billion in taxes. A year before that, 312,000 federal employees and retirees were behind on $3.5 billion in tax payments.

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