Justice Dept. Personnel Owe $14M in Taxes

Sunday, 12 Sep 2010 12:58 PM


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As Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Department of Justice sue Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, apparently for the offense of enforcing duly enacted immigration laws, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer might end up having to devote time to cleaning up his legal bureaucracy’s own house.

Information provided to the Washington Post by the Internal Revenue Service shows that nearly 2,000 Justice Department employees collectively owe a total of $14,350,152 in federal taxes for 2009. That's more than three times what 638 congressional staffers owe (more than $9 million) to the IRS, and it dwarfs the $831,000 owed by 41 White House officials.

And can the Justice Depasrtment be credible in carrying out its mission when some 1,971 Justice Department workers, who take a salary from U.S. taxpayers, haven’t paid taxes they themselves owe?

With its $25 billion budget, the Justice Department is a large federal agency, with a Criminal Division, Tax Division, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI and many other divisions. Still, Justice is conspicuous in its employees proportionately stiffing Uncle Sam in comparison with other federal agencies.

For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission, where you might expect to find lots of well-connected financial experts playing fast and loose with the tax laws, has only 91 employees who owe taxes, totaling about $1 million.

The huge State Department employs only 356 people who owe, and their debt to the IRS totals less than $3.3 million. About 1,200 Treasury Department workers owe taxes, coming to about $7.7 million. And the gargantuan Department of Health and Human Services, whose workforce of 65,000 and $700 billion budget exceed those of the entire governments of most foreign countries, has 2,841 workers who owe taxes, with a collective bill of $37.3 million.

Both the left and the right have criticized the Justice Department in the past for misconduct. The Bush administration, in particular former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was blasted by liberal Democrats in Congress for allegedly using political criteria in the firing of U.S. attorneys.

And former Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, in his book “Government At the Brink,” charged that “One overriding problem is that DOJ does a poor job of explaining what is it trying to accomplish and what it actually is accomplishing with the tax dollars entrusted to it.”

Accusing the Bush Justice Department of wasting government resources, Thompson noted that the Government Accountability Office “could not determine what Justice achieved because of DOJ’s lack of meaningful performance measures.”

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer and House Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Lamar Smith of Texas have blasted the Obama Justice Department for pouncing on Arizona, yet going soft on so-called “sanctuary cities.” Those localities defy the law by refusing to inform immigration authorities when they discover illegal aliens among their residents. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, of which Smith was the chief author, requires localities to provide information on illegals to federal authorities.

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