Tags: taxes | national security | government workers | GAO

GAO: National Security Workers Owe Millions in Overdue Federal Taxes

By    |   Tuesday, 29 July 2014 01:42 PM

Defense workers with national security clearances owe millions in back taxes, according to a report from Congress’ nonpartisan watchdog agency.

What’s more, about 31 percent of the tax delinquent workers already had tax debts when the government granted them security clearances, the study from the Government Accountability Office showed.

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The GAO noted unpaid taxes do not automatically disqualify someone from gaining a clearance. But it said that “delinquent tax debt does pose a potential vulnerability” and recommended it be part of the review process.

“An individual who is financially overextended is at risk of having to engage in illegal acts to generate funds,” the GAO report said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told The Washington Post that current policy on security clearances and overdue taxes is “unwise and risky.”

“Federal tax cheats with security clearances jeopardize both our national and economic security, and could unnecessarily put our nation’s classified information at risk,” Coburn said.

The GAO said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Treasury Department and the Office of Personnel Management are all looking at options for detecting whether applicants owe taxes.

However, the Post said federal law bars the Internal Revenue Service from disclosing private taxpayer information to other agencies. The result is that an exception to the law would be needed to check for tax debts by workers seeking security clearances.

The report said more than 80,000 Defense Department workers and contractors with security clearances owed $730 million in back taxes as of June 2012.

The Post noted the Justice Department has filed a complaint in a whistleblower lawsuit against USIS, a Virginia company that performs many of the security clearance background checks. The suit claims USIS “dumped,” or did not fully perform, at least 665,000 background checks on federal job applicants, according to the Post.

Coburn, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, told The Hill that more can be done to safeguard the clearance process.

“We must take prudent precautions not only to enhance our security, but also to encourage federal employees to pay their share of taxes and live by the same rules that so many hard working Americans do,” he vowed.

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Defense workers with national security clearances owe millions in back taxes, according to a report from Congress' nonpartisan watchdog agency.
taxes, national security, government workers, GAO
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2014-42-29
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 01:42 PM
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