WASHINGTON -- Federal employees owe a total of $3.3 billion in back taxes to the federal government, according to Internal Revenue Service data released Thursday.
In all, 318,462 federal employees owed back taxes as of last Sept. 30 -- an increase of 2.6% from the previous year. That puts the average tax bill at $10,391, according to IRS data obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.
But federal workers are better at paying their taxes than the average taxpayer. Their delinquency rate of 3.19% is far lower than the 8.7% for the population at large.
Some federal workers are worse than others. The non-payment rate for employees of the House of Representatives is 4.87%. In the Senate, it's 3.24%. That's 714 tax delinquents on Capitol Hill owing a total of $8.6 million -- more than one for each representative or senator. Thirty-six employees in the Executive Office of the President are delinquent on their taxes, for a rate of 2.06%.
Tax delinquencies on Capitol Hill are four times more common than at the Treasury Department, which has come under congressional scrutiny over bonuses paid to tax-delinquent IRS employees.
A report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration last month found that the IRS paid more than $1 million to employees who didn't pay their federal taxes. But at just 1.2% delinquent, the Treasury Department has the best rate of tax compliance in the federal government, according to the reports.
The statistical reports tally tax delinquencies at the agency level, so it's unclear who's not paying their taxes and whether any members of Congress are delinquent. The reports are part of a 20-year-old IRS effort, called the Federal Employee/Retiree Delinquency Initiative, to increase tax compliance by federal employees. The report doesn't break out the IRS, which is part of the Treasury Department, but IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said recently that more than 99% of IRS employees are current on their taxes.
The highest rates of tax delinquency are at small federal agencies dealing with civil rights and the disabled: The National Council on Disability (11.54%), the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind (10%) and the Civil Rights Commission (9.52%).
Outside the Treasury Department, the most conscientious taxpayers are active-duty military personnel, who have a delinquency rate of just 1.7%.