As Congress and the White House cast about for ways to shrink the yawning U.S. budget deficit, they could do worse than starting with a few stern words for their own staffs. According to IRS data crunched by The Washington Post, almost 100,000 employees of Congress, the West Wing, and several other federal agencies were collectively about $1 billion short in paying their 2010 taxes. That's "totally unacceptable and disrespectful," says Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who's pushing a bill to make tax delinquency a firable offense for federal workers. "If you're on the federal payroll, the very least you can do is pay your taxes." Here, a by-the-numbers look at the federal bureaucracy's tax problem:
Unpaid 2010 taxes, interest, and penalties for all Americans
Amount that 98,291 federal, postal, and congressional employees owe in unpaid 2010 taxes
Increase from 2009 to 2010 in delinquent federal employee taxes owed
Decrease from 2009 to 2010 in number of federal employees with unpaid taxes
Unpaid 2010 taxes for 684 congressional staffers
Unpaid 2010 taxes for 36 White House employees
Unpaid 2010 taxes for 29,482 active duty military personnel
Unpaid 2010 taxes for all civilian Army, Navy, Air Force, and Pentagon workers
Tax delinquency rate, in percent, at the Treasury Department, which houses the IRS. That's the lowest rate of any agency studied.
Unpaid 2010 taxes for 1,181 delinquent Treasury employees
Tax delinquency rate, in percent, at the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation — the highest rate of any agency studied
Unpaid taxes for five delinquent Council on Historic Preservation employees
Delinquency rate, in percent, at U.S. Tax Court. Five employees owe a total of $62,508.
Delinquency rate, in percent, at the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. Five employees owe a combined $22,160.