Nearly 55,000 tax-exempt organizations owed close to $1 billion in unpaid payroll and other federal taxes as of last September, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO noted that about 1,500 of those organizations each had over $100,000 in federal tax debts, with some owing tens of millions of dollars. As of September 2006, nearly 1.8 million entities were recognized as tax-exempt organizations by the Internal Revenue Service and thus did not have to pay income taxes. However, they are still subject to payroll and other taxes.

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