Unemployment fraud blindsides Kansas taxpayers – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Unemployment fraud blindsides Kansas taxpayers

By State Rep. Blaine Finch, Speaker Pro Tem

The past couple of weeks have flown by. Committees are meeting, hearing bills and moving them out quickly. So far over 800 bills have been requested by legislators, to be drafted by the hardworking men and women in our revisor’s office.

One of the biggest issues we are dealing with is the rampant fraud in the state’s unemployment program. The Governor and her Secretary of Labor are in charge of the state’s unemployment system. For months we have received complaints from people who need benefits but cannot get a phone call returned or gain access online. Benefits have been delayed and, in some cases, not paid at all.

Last week and this week the House Commerce and Labor Committee heard testimony about an equally troubling but potentially far more devastating problem, fraud. As early as March of 2020 the Governor’s office was warned about potential fraud in the unemployment system. National human resources groups, the business community and the U.S. Department of Labor sent warnings about fraud and the need to take steps to protect state unemployment systems. The administration was not listening.

As of last week, Kansas was responsible for almost 1 in 10 initial unemployment claims filed in the United States, despite being less than 1 percent of the nation’s population. Kansas was number 2 in the nation for claims filed, behind only California. And while there are around 1.5 million workers in Kansas there have been over 1 million initial unemployment claims filed. Clearly something is not right. Experts testified that as much as $300 to $400 million may have been paid out to fraudulent actors. That is nearly 40 percent of the state’s unemployment trust fund. One school district in Topeka was told that it was expected to pay the state back for over $300,000 in fraudulent claims the district never approved.

As if that were not all bad enough, now Kansas taxpayers are beginning to receive 1099-G forms for unemployment benefits they never received. If you have been the victim of unemployment fraud and you receive a 1099-G for benefits you never received, you need to take action. You will need to submit an unsworn statement and a new 1099-G will be issued showing you did not receive benefits. You have two options to file the statement.

  • Option 1: Go online anytime to the KDOL Self Service Portal at UIAssistance.GetKansasBenefits.gov and complete the form.
  • Option 2: Call the KDOL Tax Call Center 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday or 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. The call center can be reached at 785-575-1461 or by calling toll-free at 1-888-499-0063.

I was proud to support a bill introduced last week to hold schools, businesses and our not-for-profits harmless for fraudulent claims the Department of Labor was warned were coming and never should have been paid. It was not until that step was taken that the Governor finally took some action and shut the system down for several days to put in some overdue anti-fraud measures. This situation will continue to have a long wave of consequences as the unemployment trust fund will have to be replenished, but I do not believe our schools, businesses and working Kansans should foot the bill for the Governor’s mistakes.

If you need help with your unemployment claims or any other matter in state government,  call me at 785-291-3500 or email blaine.finch@house.ks.gov. Thank you for the honor of serving as your representative in Topeka.

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