Delinquent government contractors

A tax file with the word "taxes."

Jeremy Hobson: Well here in the U.S. there's a new report from the Government Accountability Office on the companies that got $24 billion worth of federal contracts from the 2009 stimulus package. And it seems skilled as they were at securing government contracts, they weren't so great at paying their taxes.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer has the details from today's report.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: It says thousands of contractors on government stimulus projects owe hundreds of millions in back taxes. Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense says that's just not fair.

Steve Ellis: If you're going to stick your finger in Uncle Sam's eye and not pay your taxes like a good corporate citizen, then you shouldn't expect to be able to get contracts that are worth millions of dollars.

Contractors are now required to certify they don't owe back taxes. But federal agencies can't check that with the IRS because of taxpayer privacy rules. Scott Amey is with the Project on Government Oversight. He says the IRS needs to share more taxpayer information with other agencies.

Scott Amey: And by having some kind of overlap with the IRS would then provide a layer of insulation that the government knows that it is working with contractors that are all paid up on their taxes.

But the IRS has its own problems. It has also awarded contracts to companies that owe back taxes.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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