The politician’s dirty little secret: Federal workers pay their taxes better than most Americans

It must be that time of year again- time to pander to the tea party by attacking federal workers for not paying their taxes. WTOP in Washington today carries the familiar story about the $3.5 billion feds owe the IRS in delinquent taxes, and the campaign by right wing politicians to fire the delinquents.

As we’ve suggested before, there’s more than a whiff of demagoguery here- the politicians are interested in collecting what’s owed under the law- but they only seem to care about one select group of deadbeats. Why?

Simple logic would suggest that if feds owe $3.5 billion, the rest of the country must owe a whole lot more- after all, the vast majority of Americans don’t work for the federal government. Are feds somehow different than everybody else when it comes to paying their fair share?

As it happens, they are- but not in the way you might think. Buried in the WTOP story is this tidbit:

The delinquency rate for the general public is 2.5 times higher than federal employees, according to the IRS. As of September 2011, the delinquency rate for active and retired federal employees and military personnel is 3.17 percent. The IRS estimates the delinquency rate for the general population is 8.2 percent.

In other words, postal workers and other federal employees are actually less likely to be tax deadbeats than the average American!

So why do GOP politicians insist on scapegoating federal workers? Probably because feds are one of the few groups they can still demonize without losing too many votes. Targeting women, blacks, hispanics, gays, etc., gets to be a problem when you realize that the majority of voters belong to at least one of those categories!

Federal employees owe $3.5 billion in unpaid taxes –