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Federal workers owe $3.5B in back taxes

March 2, 2013: This photo shows the Internal Revenue Service building at the Federal Triangle complex in Washington.AP

The number of federal workers and retirees who owed delinquent income taxes jumped by nearly 12 percent in 2011, the Internal Revenue Service said Friday. 

Nearly 312,000 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in back taxes as of Sept. 30, 2011, the agency said. The year before, about 279,000 workers and retirees owed $3.4 billion. 

Overall, the 9.8 million workers included in the data had a delinquency rate of 3.2 percent. That's better than the general public. The IRS says the delinquency rate for the general public was 8.2 percent. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rate, at 4.4 percent. The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest, at 1.1 percent. 

Among independent agencies with more than 1,000 workers, the Government Printing Office had the highest delinquency rate, at 7.6 percent. The National Credit Union Administration had the lowest, at 1 percent. 

House employees had a higher delinquency rate than workers for the Senate, but not by much. House workers had a delinquency rate of 3.7 percent, while Senate workers had a delinquency rate of 3.3 percent. Federal court employees had a delinquency rate of 2.7 percent. 

The IRS says most residents who owe back income taxes file returns but cannot pay the full amount at tax time. Others have their tax bills increased through audits and cannot pay the higher bill. 

The statistics on federal employees do not include those who are on payment plans. The IRS doesn't publicize the data but makes it available upon request. 

The new data comes as many federal workers are facing unpaid furloughs because of automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. Many federal workers have already received furlough notices; others will receive them in the coming months.

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