Thursday, September 09, 2010

Deadbeats Among Us

Given the tax problems of various Obama appointees (and members of Congress), it should come as no surprise that many staffers on Capitol Hill have their own, past-due tax bills. From today's Washington Post:

Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes at the end of last year, a sliver of the $1 billion owed by federal workers nationwide but one with potential political ramifications for members of Congress.

The debt among Hill employees has risen at a faster rate than the overall tax debt on the government's books, according to Internal Revenue Service data. It comes at a time when some Republican members are pushing for the firings of government workers who owe the IRS and President Obama has urged a crackdown on delinquent government contractors.

The IRS data does not identify delinquent taxpayers by name, party affiliation or job title and does not indicate whether any members of Congress are among the scofflaws. It shows 638 employees, or about 4 percent, of the 18,000 Hill workers owe money, a slightly higher percentage than the 3 percent delinquency rate among all returns filed nationwide.

The average unpaid tax bill is $12,787 among the Senate's delinquent taxpayers and $15,498 among those working in the House.

In an effort to get the staffers to pay up, Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah has introduced legislation that would fire federal employees with delinquent tax bills--unless they enter into a payment plan. Eight other GOP lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors; not a single Democrat has endorsed the bill (what a surprise).

Still, those Congressional staffers are veritable pikers when compared to another group of deadbeats--Air Force Academy dropouts. A report obtained by Air Force Times shows that 130 former cadets owe the government an average of $107,000 for tuition (and other benefits) paid before they quit the "zoo." All resigned during their junior or senior years, before they graduated and could be commissioned as Air Force officers.

The total bill for the academy dropouts? Ten million dollars. And, the government has made little headway in collecting the debt. The same report, requested by a former Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, shows the Defense Finance and Accounting Service has recovered only $1.8 million, and written off another $2.5 million as "uncollectable." Of the more than $9 million still outstanding, more than one-third ($3.9 million) has been owed for more than five years. Some of the debt has been on the books since 1988.

Put another way: About the time Ronald Reagan was wrapping up his second term in office, Cadet Snuffy decides a life in the Air Force isn't for him (or her). So, they quit before graduation. Virtually all of the drop-outs transfer to other schools, earn their degrees, and go on to successful civilian careers. But they never get around to repaying that debt to the Air Force, for failing to fulfill their contract at the Academy.

Admittedly, DFAS isn't the most efficient organization around (just ask Chief Buddy). And that makes us believe its time for a new tactic--public humiliation. If we can put the names and photos of deadbeat parents on websites, billboards and flyers, why not do the same thing for AFA drop-outs who took the taxpayers for a ride? We're guessing that collections will skyrocket, and most of the debt will be wiped out in a few months.

Instead, DFAS keeps sputtering along, and the deadbeat ex-zoomies keep dodging those collection letters. At its current pace, DFAS will be trying to garnish the social security checks of former cadets to settle their decades-old debt. Don't laugh; by our calculations, the oldest of the drop-outs are now in their mid-40s, and less than 20 years away from retirement.

1 comment:

Walter Clark said...

I dunno, it seems this would be a good place to reintroduce flogging. And for the military academies "drop outs" maybe include what Robert Heinlein had, the dropout's father would also be flogged. Wouldn't have to do it for very many years before everyone's bill would be paid in full, with interest.

SFC (ret) Walter M. Clark