For a brief while Thursday, it looked as if Rep. Jason Chaffetz's effort to fire federal workers who owe back taxes might proceed.
The proposal was an amendment offered by the freshman Republican from Utah to the Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2009.
The contractor bill would prohibit companies that don't pay their taxes from getting federal jobs, an effort that has the support of the Obama Administration.
Chaffetz wants to extend the no pay, no play (or rather no work, but I like alliteration) principle to "seriously delinquent" federal employees, including Congressional staff. Chaffetz cites government data that shows there are around 100,000 federal employees with "unacceptable" tax debt.
Here, I'll let Chaffetz tell you about it himself.
"This is not just the person who missed a payment," Chaffetz said. "These are the most serious offenders. They've gotten to the point where the IRS is having to put a lien on their property."
In addition to taking delinquent taxpayers off the federal payroll, Chaffetz's bill also would prohibit the feds from hiring individuals who haven't paid their taxes.
Yes, then no: Things looked pretty good for Chaffetz's proposal early on.
Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was favorably disposed toward the amendment. To woo his fellow Democrats, Towns tweaked the measure to allow delinquent federal workers to hang onto their jobs if they have set up a tax payment plan with the IRS or if they're facing serious financial hardships.
But the modified language wasn't enough. Several Democrats balked, expressing concerns that individuals could be severely penalized before it was determined that the IRS was correct in its tax delinquency assessment.
So Towns pulled the entire bill. There are indications that the Chaffetz/Towns amendment could resurface during possible Committee hearings on the topic of unpaid taxes and jobs.
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