Security Clearance Denial

Failure to File Taxes Results in Denial for Public Trust Position

In a recent Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals case, the judge was unsympathetic toward the applicant who was initially denied eligibility for placement into a Public Trust position as a contractor with the DoD. The denial was due to the fact that she failed to file federal taxes for years 2006-2007 and state taxes for years 2005-2007. The reason she gave the judge for not filing her taxes? Amazingly enough, she claimed she was influenced by her sister who had talked to her about a legal way (obtained from a book) to avoid paying income taxes.

In 2008, as a result of hearing about a famous movie star who had been convicted and sent to prison for the same offense, the applicant became scared and decided to take steps to file her delinquent tax returns and eventually getting her taxes paid off in 2010. However, her explanation about why she shirked her responsibilities and obligations as a U.S. citizen did not sit well with the judge. Doubts remained about her judgment and reliability, which are the cornerstones of eligibility for duties requiring a higher level of public trust.

The judge in this case opined that the applicant, who fully understood what she was doing was wrong, deliberately made a reckless decision to avoid her obligations and defraud the Government, and then only took steps to correct the situation because of a fear of being incarcerated. Just as in evaluating character and conduct for eligibility for a security clearance, a favorable determination for Public Trust positions may only be granted when it is clearly consistent with the interests of the Government.