Commentary Magazine


Back Taxes and Buffett Rules

Remember the Buffett Rule, which was supposed to usher in an age of tax fairness and solve our debt crisis? (And by that, I mean cover .23 percent of our annual deficit while providing enough loopholes for top earners to dodge the rule altogether?)

Well, in the spirit of equality, here’s a new proposal aimed at federal employees. It’s called the Pay Your Taxes Plan. It’s fairly self-explanatory, and involves federal employees simply paying the $3.4 billion they owe in back taxes (including the $833,970 owed by White House staffers, $9.3 million owed by Treasury employees, and $17 million owed by the Justice Department). And the best part is that it would even raise more than the Buffett Plan’s annual revenue.

IBD’s Andrew Malcolm reports:

A new report just out from the Internal Revenue Service reveals that 36 of President Obama’s executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes. These people working for Mr. Fair Share apparently haven’t paid any share, let alone their fair share. …

The report finds that thousands of federal employees owe the country more than $3.4 billion in back taxes. That’s up 3% in the past year.

That scale of delinquency could annoy voters, hard-pressed by their own costs, fears and stubbornly high unemployment despite Joe Biden’s many promises.

The tax offenders include employees of the U.S. Senate who help write the laws imposed on everyone else. They owe $2.1 million. Workers in the House of Representatives owe $8.5 million, Department of Education employees owe $4.3 million and over at Homeland Security, 4,697 workers owe about $37 million. Active duty military members owe more than $100 million.

Seriously, though, stories like these just highlight what a gimmick the Buffett Rule is. It’s purpose isn’t to help solve the debt crisis in any practical sense; it’s to enforce this administration’s idea of fairness on the American public. If the $3 billion estimated annual revenue from the Buffett Rule had any chance of helping close the deficit, that $3.4 billion owed by federal employees would be a much bigger deal than it is.