Tax delinquencies aren't just a White House problem

Published Apr. 6, 2013

The statement

Forty aides who serve President Barack Obama "owe $333,485 in back taxes."


The ruling

We got the latest numbers in an Excel spreadsheet from an IRS spokesman. His agency developed a reporting method in 1992 to comply with a congressional requirement that it provide annual reports on the tax delinquencies of federal employees.

In 2011, the last year for which the filing deadline has long passed, 3.62 percent of the civilian federal workforce — or 107,658 individuals out of 2.97 million federal workers — had an unresolved federal income tax delinquency.

This did not include taxpayers who have made arrangements with the IRS to pay off their tax debts. Rather, these are people who have not, cannot or will not pay.

The numbers we presented so far include only federal civilian employees, not military personnel or retirees, because of the implicit rationale made in criticizing these workers: Those who carry out the regular functions of government ought to be keenly aware of the need to pay their taxes. Altogether, these tax delinquents owed just over $1 billion.

But if you add active military members, reservists, National Guard and federal retirees, the number of delinquent individuals grows to 311,566, and the total owed climbs to $3.5 billion.

As for the White House, the Executive Office of the President had 40 tax delinquencies out of its 1,902-member staff in 2011, for a rate of 2.10 percent. These employees owed $333,485 altogether.

The delinquencies are of concern to some in Congress. But the House of Representatives and Senate have tax delinquency rates even worse than the White House's.

The House, including a staff of 11,812 and 435 lawmakers, had 454 tax delinquents in 2011, owing nearly $8.9 million, giving it a 3.71 percent delinquency rate. That compared with the White House rate (the Executive Office of the President) of 2.10 percent.

The Senate, with 100 lawmakers and 6,930 staff members, had a rate of 3.33 percent, with 234 individuals owing the IRS $1.9 million.

Putting all this together, the claim — that 40 staffers in the Obama White House are tax delinquents — is accurate. Yet when presented as an Obama White House phenomenon, it omits pertinent facts.

We rate this Mostly True.

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