While senators are debating tax legislation for Americans, and deciding whether or not to extend Bush tax cuts expiring on December 31st, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn introduced a bill to make sure U.S. lawmakers are also paying their taxes. The bill is an extension of legislation introduced previously by three Republic sponsors, Senators Richard Burr, Jon Ensign, and John Thune. They passed legislation on the 15th, which required lawmakers to list tax liabilities owed to federal, state, or local governments.
Senator Tom Coburn’s bill would require full financial disclosure of unpaid taxes, wage garnishment to repay the liabilities, and also the firing of federal employees who owe back taxes but haven’t entered a repayment plan.
In a statement by Tom Coburn entered into the Congressional Record, he says, “At a time when Congress may allow taxes to increase on some or even all Americans, Congress should not expect other Americans to pay more taxes when they are not even paying the taxes they owe under the rates they set themselves.”
He also said in the statement that lawmakers should be leading by example: “Legislators and government employees should not be exempt from the laws they write and enforce. The very nature of federal employment and the concept inherent to ‘public service’ demands those being paid by taxpayers contribute their fair share of taxes. They should lead by example.”
The current financial disclosure forms required of lawmakers include a listing of liabilities – but because the government is not considered a “creditor” under current disclosure laws, back taxes are excluded from the financial disclosure. If Coburn’s bill is passed, lawmakers would be required to show how much they owe in back taxes on their annual financial disclosure statements. If they owe back taxes, an ethics investigation would then be conducted.