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Cummings Issues Statement on House Floor Opposing GOP Bill on Federal Worker Tax Accountability

Apr 15, 2015
Press Release

Cummings Issues Statement on House Floor Opposing GOP Bill on Federal Worker Tax Accountability

 

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 15, 2015)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, spoke on the House floor in opposition to H.R. 1563, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015, which unfairly targets federal workers and also undermines the government’s ability to collect unpaid taxes.

The American Federation of Government Employees, Government Managers Coalition, and the National Treasury Employees Union all oppose this legislation.

This bill failed to pass the House by a vote of 266 to 160, with a two-thirds majority required for passage.  

Below are Ranking Member Cummings’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the House floor today, and the video of his speech:

 

Floor Statement of Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings

H.R. 1563, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015

April 15, 2015

 

            Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 1563, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015.

            This bill seeks to solve a problem of tax compliance that simply does not exist, a fact confirmed by the Internal Revenue Service. 

This measure is based on ideology rather than facts and will perpetuate a negative image of federal workers. 

            This legislation is very similar to H.R. 249 introduced in the last Congress which I opposed in Committee and on the House floor. 

I remain opposed to this legislation because the purpose and intent of the bill is the same as the measure from last Congress. 

It would require federal agencies to fire federal employees who are delinquent in paying their taxes.     

Everyone, including federal employees, should pay their taxes. 

My Republican colleagues seem to believe that there is a serious problem with federal employees not paying their taxes that requires a legislative fix. 

There is not.    

Last Congress, after Committee consideration, former Committee Chairman Issa and I sought information from the IRS on their rules and procedures regarding debt collection, options for resolving delinquencies, and payment options.

Without waiting for these answers, the Republican leadership rushed the bill to floor.

During this Congress, we were able to obtain valuable information from the IRS which the Republicans have chosen to ignore by bringing this legislation to the floor. 

The IRS has a mechanism in place to recoup funds from federal employees who fail to pay their taxes known as the Federal Payment Levy Program.

Under this program, the IRS can impose a continuous levy on federal salaries and pensions up to 15% until the debt is paid. 

The IRS can initiate additional levies in cases when it determines that it is appropriate to do so.

Data from the IRS show that all federal employees who owe taxes and do not qualify for financial hardship exemptions or are not involved in bankruptcy, litigation, or pending offers in compromise, are subject to having their wages levied.

Since the start of the levy program, the IRS has been extremely successful in recovering delinquent taxes from federal employees. 

According to the IRS, the Levy Program has collected over $5 billion since 2000.  These facts indicate that the IRS is succeeding in recovering delinquent taxes in 100% or nearly all cases involving federal employees.

The fact is the IRS has confirmed that it does not have a problem collecting delinquent taxes from federal employees. 

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I do not not see a problem with the government’s ability to recover delinquent taxes from federal employees.

I do not understand why, despite this fact, we are debating this measure on the floor today.

According to the IRS, the 2014 tax compliance rate for the federal community is 97%. 

This is higher than the 95% tax compliance rate for Members and staff of the House of Representatives.

It is also much higher than the 91% compliance rate for the general public.

This legislation is designed to demonize federal employees rather than to help the government recoup delinquent taxes.

In fact, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that these proposals would increase costs to the taxpayers.

Let me repeat that—CBO determined that these provisions would actually increase costs.

That is because they would require agencies to spend time and resources to review public records to find tax liens filed against current or prospective employees, even though the gains would be minimal.

            For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this measure. 

Thank you and I reserve the balance of my time.

114th Congress