TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, March 5, 2010

Democrats Pull Bill Firing 678 Congressional Staff Tax Deadbeats; 'Just Because You’re Fighting with the IRS Doesn’t Mean You’re Wrong'

Following up on yesterday's post, Fire All 678 Congressional Staffers Who Are Tax Deadbeats?: Politico, Democrats Pull Tax Cheat Bill:

Legislation that would force government and Hill staffers to pay back taxes or lose their jobs was pulled from House committee markup today after Democrats hit the brakes.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees government workers, told POLITICO he was concerned that the legislation would kick workers to the curb before it could be determined if the IRS had erred. “The employee can fight it, but they don’t have a job,” Lynch said during a committee markup today.

“In 80% of [default] cases there is a dispute,” Lynch later told POLITICO. “The people are arguing with the IRS about business expenses, non-business expenses, deductions, tax credits and exemptions. And in a lot of these cases, the IRS turns out to be wrong. I’m not sure how many of those cases apply to Senate and House staffers, but just because you’re fighting with the IRS doesn’t mean you’re wrong.” ...

[S]ome Republicans, including Chaffetz, said he suspects that’s not the only reason why Democrats didn’t support it. “I think the subtext is the Democrat’s support for unions.”

(Hat Tip: Woody McNair.)

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Comments

Uh, guys? You're Congress, not a court. It's not your job to be fair. It's your job to maintain credibility and faith in the government.

Posted by: hitnrun | Mar 5, 2010 3:06:58 PM

It would be interesting to find out how many of these staffers work for Democrats and how many for Republicans.

Posted by: David Aitken | Mar 5, 2010 3:17:15 PM

With this administration in control, I doubt the IRS is actually "wrong" on any of these cases. If anything, they probably have far too lenient to date.

Load, lock, FIRE!

Posted by: Punkindrublic | Mar 5, 2010 3:23:17 PM

Let them pay up, then dispute the tax bill. Treat them just like average citizens, no worse, but no better.

Posted by: Johnv2 | Mar 5, 2010 3:39:37 PM

The fact that any of them at all are tax cheats should bother everyone-but no it has to be democrats against republicans. That's why the rich do not pay and everyone else does-because American citizens are so ignorant that they fight amongst themselves instead of firing the real abusers.

Back in 2000 Capitol Hill Blue listed a number of House and Senate members engaging in crime(The total numbers were not released):

After researching public records, newspaper articles, civil court transcripts, and criminal records, Capitol Hill Blue discovered that:


* 29 members of Congress have been accused of spousal abuse.


* 7 have been arrested for fraud.


* 19 have been accused of writing bad checks.


* 117 have bankrupted at least two businesses.


* 3 have been arrested for assault.


* 71 have credit reports so bad they can't qualify for a
credit card.


* 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges.


* 8 have been arrested for shoplifting.


* 21 are current defendants in lawsuits.


* And in 1998 alone, 84 were stopped for drunk driving, but released after they claimed Congressional immunity.


NOW-in 2010-Are you surprised that they are just as corrupt and selfish as they've always been? Really? Divide and conquer the average moronic citizen. It is working in America.

Posted by: lili | Mar 5, 2010 4:36:40 PM

I'm curious what fraction of total congressional staffers this represents, and how that compares with the rate of taxpayers in general? Are congressional staffers more likely to be tax cheats than the average American? And where on earth would anyone asociated with politicians get the idea that they're somehow above the law? I'm baffled......

Posted by: Barb | Mar 5, 2010 5:06:37 PM

This reeks worse than Michelle OBama's 16 odd servants. In CONgress you simply have criminals covering for one another. While these staffers HAVE jobs and could pay the taxes I have been unable to work for 6 years, fighting for disability as a last resort to survive and the IRS is sending me threatening letters for the lousy 3K I admit I owe. Perhaps these staffers are the fluffers or the royal buttwipers and are thus considered essential personnel. Or perhaps if they were fired fingers would then be pointing to CONgressional tax deadbeats yet again.

Posted by: theo | Mar 5, 2010 5:45:07 PM

I agree with Lynch. The IRS has been known to make mistakes and then bully people. Maybe there is something more sinsiter in play here with the people being Hill staffers, but if it is only tax disputes, then why fire them?

Posted by: Mike | Mar 5, 2010 5:55:36 PM

“I think the subtext is the Democrat’s support for unions.”

What union do Congressional staffers belong to? Didn't know that the House and Senate were union shops.

Posted by: tax guy | Mar 5, 2010 6:10:06 PM

I think that the interesting thing about this bill is that it applies to all government workers the standard that IRS employees have to meet. In other words, this is not some punitive measure that is being foisted on Congressional staffers. It is merely an attempt to bring the rest of the Federal Government into compliance with current IRS policy regarding its own employees. Honestly, that doesn't seem to be so bad, does it?

Me

Posted by: David | Mar 5, 2010 6:16:02 PM

"Are congressional staffers more likely to be tax cheats than the average American?"

Yes. See below.

"And where on earth would anyone asociated with politicians get the idea that they're somehow above the law?"

I assume you're joking. You don't associate with powerful politicians unless you see an opportunity to be part of the ruling class. That's your ticket to not having to abide the humdrum of the commoners.

"I'm baffled......"

I doubt it. ;)


Posted by: Judge Roy Bean | Mar 5, 2010 6:44:51 PM

There is a great misconception about government employees paying taxes. Actually no government worker pays any taxes whatsoever. You see their wage and retirement contributions are TAX MONEY paid by the honest workers in America (you and me).
They are only recycling a small portion of the taxes paid to them as salary by we tax payers. This true of ALL people that are not doing productive work in the private sector. Government employed persons are actually parasites, sucking the life out of their fellow citizens. If you have not realized this until now please inform everyone you know so that the myth of government personnel paying taxes can be stopped once and for all. And if you are a government employee please resign your job and stop stealing from your fellow citizens that actually do productive work. Thank You.

Posted by: evergreen | Mar 5, 2010 9:06:14 PM

Evergreen's comments = BLAM !!!!

Posted by: Steve | Mar 6, 2010 8:46:09 AM

Evergreen,

Please stay of the interstates, state highways, and any other public road that have been built by the government employees you so detest. Don't walk to the ballot box in your local city hall or public school--public works you know. Don't fly either--FAA you know. And, um, stay off the internet while you're at it lest you are such a hypocrite that you're willing to use anything supported, built, or designed by the public sector.

Last I check, Feds did not take home 100% of "your money." They pay FICA, Medicate, Federal, state, and local taxes. The fact that the source of the money is the Federal Government does not mean Feds don't pay taxes.

And where is your contempt for Blackwater and the likes who pay their employees with "your" taxes too. Every "private" company in Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other government contractor is paying their employees with "your" taxes, so by your logic they do not pay taxes either.

And if the government ever came to your house, and flew you off to Guantanimo for something you said, I sure hope there is no public defender there to help you--I wouldn't want taxpayer dollars to be used on you. And people like you who reject the government do not deserve the protections of the 1st Amendment or any other Constitutional right or Federal, State, or local law.

When we steal from you don't call the police. When you're house is burning, don't call the fire department.

If you hate our government so much, why don't you just do us all a favor and leave.

Posted by: tax guy | Mar 6, 2010 4:15:10 PM

I wrote: "And where is your contempt for Blackwater and the likes who pay their employees with "your" taxes too. Every "private" company in Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other government contractor is paying their employees with "your" taxes, so by your logic they do not pay taxes either."

I was so mad when I wrote this, I completely forgot about the foreign earned income exclusion! These "private sector" employees of these PRIVATE companies, who are being paid with TAXPAYER DOLLARS to do their jobs overseas DON'T PAY TAXES on your tax dollars they are being paid with.

Oh the irony! Feds PAY taxes and get lambasted. Private employees who are paid with Federal Tax dollars PAY NO TAXES on their wages (up to the foreign eared income exclusion) don't even recycle the tax dollars they are paid with back into the system.

It is sad that the people who are angriest at the government understand it the least. Not saying they wouldn't be angry if they knew what was going on, but at least they would be angry at the right things.

Posted by: tax guy | Mar 7, 2010 10:02:25 AM

Well, the reason for pulling the legislation is bad too. The IRS has an extensive appeals process, and the bill could easily be changed to refer to any final determination of tax liability, or that you have to be on a payment plan, or take any of the other options available to any other taxpayer, before the job is lost.

Posted by: hah | Mar 8, 2010 5:21:52 AM