Taxes Owed by 98,281 US Government Employees

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U.S. Non-compliance Rate

There is over one billion dollars of taxes owed by 98,281 U.S. government employees.  Fully 36 employees in the Executive Office of the President owe back taxes of $833,970 covering an average of over two previous tax years. The White House delinquency rate is 2.01%. At least that’s better than the overall government delinquency rate of 3.33%.  The motto of the White House must be, “Learn from Tim Geithner.”

This figure covers only civilian, non-retired employees.  And admittedly a large chunk comes from the U.S. Postal Service. (I thought the Postal Service wasn’t part of the government any more.  I’ve been working for years to learn to type usps.com instead of usps.gov.)

This is part of the fascinating data set created by the Federal Employee/Retiree Delinquency Initiative (FERDI, IRS Part 5, Chapter 19, Section 18).  This story comes from Mark Segraves, reporter for WTOP radio in Washington, D.C.  According to him, “we may have posted FERDIs the past 5 years or so. I’ve been doing this story each year, IRS at first only released it under FOIA, now they just hand it over.”[1]  WTOP uses Scribd.com to post a lot of their raw data.  The Excel workbook is available both with the story on the station’s website and on Scribd.

Investor’s Business Daily has a vitriolic column.  And the story is spreading.  I’m working with Mark Segraves to pull together some historical data on non-compliance by the government compared to the general population.  For 2009, the Federal government civilian workforce had a non-compliance rate of 3.35%.  As far as I can tell from pulling together disparate data sets from the IRS, the general population had a non-compliance rate of 4.86%.[2]  The history of non-compliance in the 21st century is shown below.  When I’m reasonably confident that my dataset is correct I’ll post a link to the Excel workbook.  Stay tuned.



[1]   Segraves, Mark (2012).  Personal e-mail communication.

[2]   Noncompliance data is available here while data on total tax returns is here.  The overall data is from ” Selected Income and Tax Items in Current and Constant Dollars . Both links are to Excel workbooks, so don’t expect a web page to necessarily open.

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About Tony Lima

Retired after teaching economics at California State Univ., East Bay (Hayward, CA). Ph.D., economics, Stanford. Also taught MBA finance at the California University of Management and Technology. Occasionally take on a consulting project if it's interesting. Other interests include wine and technology.

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