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Paying taxes is job requirement for revenue employees

Tribune illustrationSALEM — As Oregonians prepare to file their taxes by the April 18 deadline, they can take some solace in the fact that state Department of Revenue employees have likely been busy lately filing their own returns.

It’s a mandatory condition of employment for department employees to pay any taxes they owe the state, and the agency has a dedicated employee who verifies the tax compliance of auditors and other staff.

EO MEDIA GROUPHowever, the Department of Revenue might be the only Oregon state agency where tax compliance is a job requirement. Matt Shelby, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services, said that agency does not verify whether its employees are complying with state tax laws. The Department of Administrative Services also sets minimum human resources standards that all of state government must abide by, and tax compliance is not among those standards.

“I think from our standpoint it is appropriate for different agencies to have different requirements,” Shelby said. “I’m not aware of any discussions where it was actively discussed and then a decision was made not to.” I just know that we don’t.”

Shelby added that “like any other Oregon employer, we’re required to garnish wages of any employee that is severely delinquent in their taxes and we would do so. That goes for any employer in the state.”

Compliance checks

No one appears to know what percentage of state employees are delinquent on their taxes, nor how that might compare with the general population. Unlike the federal government, Oregon also does not track how many state employees are delinquent on their taxes.

The IRS has been tracking and reporting on federal employees’ tax compliance under an initiative launched in 1993, according to a statement by the agency on Thursday. In 2014, the IRS report found nearly 114,000 federal civilian employees were delinquent on their taxes by a total of $1.1 billion, according to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

At the Oregon Department of Revenue, new hires must undergo a pre-employment tax compliance check and then additional periodic checks to ensure they still meet the requirement.

“The department has an employee compliance officer who checks all our employees for compliance with their state taxes,” public information officer Joy P. Krawczyk wrote in an email. “Compliance checks are run on potential employees before they’re offered a position here, and then periodically after they’re hired. Compliance checks are also run any time an employee’s permanent position within the department changes, such as if they’re promoted or transferred.”

State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, said the state should require tax compliance of all its employees. “I don’t know how you can expect tax compliance of Oregonians when the (state) doesn’t have tax compliance with their employees,” Johnson said.

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group. Hillary Borrud can be reached at 503-364-4431 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..