Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Taxes Really Are For the Little People

The White House issued a memo calling on departments to avoid contracting with companies that have tax obligations to the IRS.
The Federal Government pays more than half a trillion dollars a year to contractors and has an important obligation to protect American taxpayer money and the integrity of the Federal acquisition process. Yet reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) state that Federal contracts are awarded to tens of thousands of companies with serious tax delinquencies. The total amount in unpaid taxes owed by these contracting companies is estimated to be more than $5 billion.

Too often, Federal contracting officials do not have the most basic information they need to make informed judgments about whether a company trying to win a Federal contract is delinquent in paying its taxes. We need to give our contracting officials the tools they need to protect taxpayer dollars.

Accordingly, I hereby direct the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (Commissioner) to conduct a review of certifications of non-delinquency in taxes that companies bidding for Federal contracts are required to submit pursuant to a 2008 amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation. I further direct that the Commissioner report to me within 90 days on the overall accuracy of contractors' certifications.

I also direct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, working with the Secretary of the Treasury and other agency heads, to evaluate practices of contracting officers and debarring officials in response to contractors' certifications of serious tax delinquencies and to provide me, within 90 days, recommendations on process improvements to ensure these contractors are not awarded new contracts, including a plan to make contractor certifications available in a Government-wide database, as is already being done with other information on contractors.
Curiously, there wasn't nearly this much scrutiny to keep people like Tim Geithner from getting nominated and then confirmed for Treasury Secretary despite his tax obligations. Nor did the President have a problem nominating tax cheats like Hilda Solis or Tom Daschle (both ended up withdrawing their nominations in large part to their being tax cheats.

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