A House committee has passed two bills that would prohibit people with seriously delinquent tax debts from receiving federal contracts or grants or serving as federal employees.

H.R. 829, the Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2011, which was introduced Feb. 28, 2011 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, passed on a voice vote Wednesday in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The bill would prohibit any person who has a seriously delinquent tax debt from obtaining a federal government contract or grant. The committee accepted an amendment from Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., which would require an agency to notify Congress if a waiver to the law is granted.

H.R. 828, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2011, also introduced by Rep. Chaffetz, passed on a voice vote on Wednesday too. The bill would make an individual who has a seriously delinquent tax debt ineligible to be appointed, or to continue serving, as a federal employee. Chaffetz introduced an amendment in the nature of a substitute which exempted uniformed military personnel from this act. The committee also adopted an amendment on a voice vote from Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., that would require a notice period before personnel action is taken by an agency, among other technical changes to protect due process. Chaffetz and Lynch negotiated a 60-day notice period during the markup of the bill.

Both of the bills define “seriously delinquent tax debt” as an outstanding tax debt for which a notice of lien has been filed in public record. It does not include a debt being paid in a timely manner or a debt for which a collection due process hearing has been requested or is pending.

“Federal employees, contractors, and grantees have an obvious obligation to pay their taxes,” Chaffetz said last month. “Because they draw their compensation and funds from the American taxpayers, they owe it to the taxpayers themselves to be compliant. Those that do not should be fired or lose funding.”

A third bill passed by the committee on Wednesday would expand the probationary period for newly hired federal employees to two years, up from one year.

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