WASHINGTON — At least 13 companies receiving billions of dollars in bailout money owe a total of more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes, a key lawmaker said Thursday.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., chairman of a House subcommittee overseeing the federal bailout, said two companies owe more than $100 million apiece.
"This is shameful. It is a disgrace," Lewis said. "We are going to get to the bottom of what is going on here."
The House Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight discovered the unpaid taxes in a review of tax records from 23 companies receiving the most money, Lewis said as he opened a hearing on the issue.
The committee said it could not legally release the names of the companies owing taxes. It said one recipient of bailout money had almost $113 million in unpaid federal income taxes from 2005 and 2006. A second recipient owed almost $102 million dating to before 2004. Another was behind $1.1 million in federal income taxes and $223,000 in federal employment taxes.
Lewis said the panel plans to review tax records from other firms receiving federal money, but he was unsure if it would look at every one of them.
"We're not done," he said.
Banks and other companies receiving federal money were required to sign contracts stating they had no unpaid taxes, Lewis said. But he said the Treasury Department did not ask them to turn over their tax records.
The Internal Revenue Service "has every expectation that these amounts will be paid and is committed to collect every dollar of taxes that are owed," IRS spokesman Frank Keith said in a statement. "The IRS recognizes that those entities that receive taxpayer support have a special obligation to pay their taxes, and these taxpayer accounts will remain closely monitored by the IRS to ensure that the full amount of taxes due are paid."