TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Three Donald Trump Appointees Owe IRS Back Taxes

Center for Public IntegrityCenter for Public Integrity, Three Donald Trump Appointees Owe IRS Back Taxes:

At least three of President Donald Trump’s political appointees are drawing taxpayer-funded paychecks while owing the Internal Revenue Service tens of thousands of dollars, a Center for Public Integrity review of federal financial disclosures reveals.

Trump’s appointment of federal debtors to his administration perpetuates a pattern that’s dogged presidential administrations — including that of President Barack Obama — for decades.

Trump himself has yet to address the issue in any meaningful way. Meanwhile, a bill aimed in part at disqualifying serious tax scofflaws from federal employment has languished since Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced it in January. (Chaffetz resigned in June.)

“The Trump administration is proving to be no different than any of the others,” said Marcus Owens, a partner at law firm Loeb & Loeb and former director of the IRS’ exempt organizations division. “For senior executives, particularly, there should be some requirement that they should stay current on their taxes.”

White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom declined to answer questions about the White House’s policies on employing people who owe the IRS money or whether Trump himself would like his appointees to retire their IRS debts. ...

The Trump appointees reporting money owed to the federal government include Justin Clark, a prominent Trump White House aide, who owes up to $50,000 in back taxes, according to disclosure records. A financial disclosure filed by Clark, the White House director of intergovernmental affairs and a deputy assistant to the president, does not indicate he’s actively paying off his debts through an IRS-approved payment plan. In his role, Clark serves as the White House’s liaison to state, local and tribal governments.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Special Assistant Joe Alexander and White House Liaison for the Corporation for National and Community Service Deborah Cox-Roush, who each also reported owing up to $50,000 in federal taxes, indicate they are on payment plans, according to their financial disclosures.

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This is irritating and offensive.

Posted by: mike | Aug 9, 2017 9:31:08 AM

This is work as an IRS you would have to pay all due opinion is if it is owed it must be paid before you step in a US government office.

Posted by: sid | Aug 9, 2017 2:54:47 PM

While I'm annoyed that some appointee's owe back taxes (and presumably don't have a payment plan or pending CDP hearing or Tax Court case), I'm far more annoyed with the number of IRS employees who not only owe back taxes but have failed to file or are otherwise not in compliance with our tax laws.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Aug 10, 2017 4:00:27 AM

Whew, at least its not the Treasury Secretary this time... Short memories.

Posted by: Tom N | Aug 10, 2017 7:25:51 AM

If an appointee or hire is on an IRS-approved payment plan and has not been convicted of a crime, at the very least a "facts and circumstances" test should favor the appointment or employment by the feds as it would with almost any other employer. Positions requiring security clearances of top secret or above (e.g., SCF) should be subject to stricter scrutiny by all employers, of course.

If no IRS-approved payment plan is in place, or if there are finance-related crimes or judgements against the appointee or employee (e.g., embezzlement), then the bias should be against the appointment or hiring.

Posted by: Michael L. Wyland | Aug 10, 2017 10:56:19 AM