RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's one of those things that frustrates citizens to no end - watching the federal government not enforce the laws on the books.
NBC12 went straight to Capitol Hill, after our investigation into federal contracts going to hundreds of companies that owe taxes, to speak with Congressman Donald McEachin. He was so frustrated with the findings, he started digging for his own answers.
NBC12 found at least 125 companies across the U.S., including 12 right here in Virginia, not paying a total of more than $40 million in taxes. Those companies are still awarded large contracts from the federal government.
"I'm frustrated when I hear that story! are you kidding me," said McEachin.
The contracts to do work for the feds total about $134 million.
"There are times when government waste isn't so complicated. It's simple, and this is one of those examples," said David Williams.
Williams is the president of the Taxpayer's Protection Alliance, a non-partisan, non-profit based out of DC. He says what the investigation uncovered is why people feel the system is rigged.
"If they don't pay their taxes, they could possibly go to jail. But you have multi-billion-dollar companies not paying their taxes, and they get another government contract. It's the epitome of frustrating," said Williams.
Federal law prevents any company that owes the IRS money and is not in litigation from receiving a contract.
"You know it's frustrating as a policy maker when it's already illegal! We've made it illegal. We've asked the agencies to talk to one another, and somehow or another that's not happening," said McEachin.
He immediately sent our investigation to Congress's think tank - Congressional Research Services. It has already started working on this issue to see if there's a legislative fix, a way to uphold the law, a way to insure companies that owe taxes are not rewarded with more taxpayer money.
"It's vital that we enforce the law, because that makes no sense. That's just a disservice to the taxpayer," said McEachin.
He is even looking into whether it is as simple as adding a question to the federal grant application form - asking if a company has paid its taxes.
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