- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Federal workers, fearful that the Internal Revenue Service will tax their newly won frequent-flier mileage perk, can relax the miles already are taxable.
Under current tax law, frequent-flier miles earned on business travel whether you are a fed, a businessman or a hot dog vendor are considered taxable income. The fact that you probably did not know that says a lot.
Taxpayers, including federal workers who in December were granted permission to use miles earned on government business, are supposed to report business travel mileage, how many frequent-flier miles were used and their value, and then pay tax on that amount as part of income. Hah.
To date, the number of tax returns the IRS has examined which show added income based on the value of business-related frequent-flier miles used is very small. Like maybe none.
The "problem" is that airlines don't differentiate between personal and business miles, people don't differentiate and the IRS has no way of tracking them. Until it comes up with a system and don't hold your breath buckle up and fly right.

2003 pay raise
The budget President Bush sends Congress in a few days contains $38 billion for a variety of items, including a January 2003 military pay raise.
Given past practice, civilian federal workers could expect equal treatment. Whenever a president has recently proposed military raises, Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, and Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, have asked for equal treatment for federal workers. And got it. That's what happened with the 2002 pay raise.
But the policy of pay parity isn't chiseled in stone anywhere. It's up to Congress and the White House. President Bush could propose a lesser amount for civilians and this year stick to his guns.
After all, the military is having trouble getting and keeping high-skilled personnel (like pilots) who can double or triple their salaries in industry.
Would you prefer being away from home six months at a time, landing a jet on an aircraft carrier deck (when not being shot at), or would you prefer a much bigger salary to fly a commercial jet between Washington and Paris? Or Charlotte?
Insiders say that if the White House makes a case that military personnel deserve bigger percentage raises, Congress this year would have a tougher time selling the pay linkage (same raise for civilian and military personnel) anywhere beyond the Beltway in an election year.

Postal arrogance
The U.S. Postal Service is the largest federal agency. Most of its 900,000 employees work hard. And they are among the lowest-paid federal workers. But postal executives, some of them, are something else again. They keep getting their hands caught in the cookie jar.
Most recent outrage: Several dozen executives who earn six-figure salaries for managing a monopoly that is losing money currently enjoy fancy Washington suburban homes while paying down-on-the-farm mortgages.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the program, designed to help recruit and relocate top talent, allows an executive in a $150,000 home to come here and get a $500,000 home but pay the smaller mortgage payment. So who pays the difference? Go look in the mirror.
For more, check out the Jan. 17 press release issued by the Office of the Inspector General. Online it's at: https://www.uspsoig.gov/press_releases/generated_press.asp?idfield=41.

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