Labor Department Successfully Recovers More Than $15 Million in Fraudulent Unemployment Insurance Benefits
FEDERAL INCOME TAXES INTERCEPTED VIA TREASURY OFFSET PROGRAM
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has collected $15.3 million of fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits as a result of the Treasury Offset Program (TOP). This program allows garnishment of IRS refunds and other federal payments from those who have collected unemployment benefits fraudulently.
“The ability to reclaim these funds that were fraudulently collected is extremely important to the business community because the health of the Unemployment Trust Fund affects the amount of taxes an employer pays,” said Acting Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips.
The total amount intercepted from the IRS since the beginning of the 2013 tax season is $15,378,715.
Overpayments typically occur when claimants continue to claim benefits after returning to work and fail to report (or underreport) their earnings. Approximately fifty percent of overpayments made in Tennessee during 2012 are for underreported or unreported wages. Another main reason for overpayments is when employers or their third party administrators fail to provide timely and complete information on the reason for an individual’s separation from employment, resulting in the approval of a claim that would otherwise be denied.
The TOP program garnishes IRS refunds as well as the following other federal payments:
- Federal salary pay, including military pay
- Federal retirement, including military retirement pay
- Contractor/vendor payments
- Certain federal benefit payments, such as Social Security (other than Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement and Black Lung (Part B) benefits)
- Other federal payments, including certain loans that are not exempt from offset
Phillips stressed that while this is an important announcement, it addresses the symptom rather than the cause of overpayments of unemployment benefits. “Developing strategies to prevent fraud is of the greatest importance. In the coming months we will share these new measures with the public as they are hammered out.”
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