Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz is attempting to ensure that all Members of Congress pay their taxes — because for some, a conscience is not enough.
Chaffetz’s bill, H.R. 6145, would require that all lawmakers disclose their delinquent tax liabilities, undergo an ethics inquiry if they had any delinquency, and have their wages garnished to pay any delinquent liability. The bill is similar to legislation sponsored by Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn in the Senate.
Earlier this year, Chaffetz introduced H.R. 4735 which would terminate and prevent the hiring of any federal employee with “seriously delinquent tax debt.”
Chaffetz told The Daily Caller that dealing with elected officials with tax debt is more sensitive than dealing with the average federal worker in the same situation. “There are some Constitutional issues — you can’t just fire somebody who is duly elected,” Chaffetz said. “So we wanted to work closely with Senator Coburn and came up with a way to essentially disclose this information — if you fall into this category — disclose it to the Ethics Committee, allow them to investigate, and also have your wages garnished.”
Chaffetz said he did not know of any other representatives, besides New York Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel, who were behind in their taxes. “We don’t know, that is part of the point. But this would require them to file with Ethics and therefore the public would know,” he said.
At the beginning of the month, The Washington Post reported that Capitol Hill employees owed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) $9.3 million in unpaid taxes last year. The average unpaid tax bill on the Senate side was $12,787 and $15,498 on the House side.
The IRS also found that nearly 100,000 civilian federal employees owed over $1 billion in unpaid taxes.
Rangel’s office did not return requests for comment.