More than 27,000 health care providers who were paid by Medicare had unpaid payroll and other federal tax debts totaling over $2 billion in 2006, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office.

The figure represents about 6 percent of all such providers. However, it could well be an understatement, according to the GAO. The $2 billion in unpaid tax debts only includes those debts reported on a tax return or assessed by the IRS through its enforcement programs. However, some of the Medicare providers owed taxes under separate tax identification numbers from the TINs that received the Medicare payments, or they did not file their tax returns.

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