By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog
COLUMBUS — If you’ve defrauded Ohio’s unemployment compensation program, don’t expect to receive your federal income tax refund.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services are teaming up to collect outstanding debts owed by people who fraudulently received unemployment benefits. They’ll be using the Treasury Offset Program to confiscate any federal income tax refunds the offenders may be due.
ODJFS already withholds state income tax refunds and lottery awards to cover fraudulent unemployment compensation debts. The attorney general’s office is charged with collecting debts owed to state agencies.
“This is one more tool we can use to collect fraudulently obtained benefits,” ODJFS Director Michael Colbert said in a statement. “We are here to help jobless Ohioans, but we have no tolerance for those who attempt to defraud the system.”
“We want to make sure that those who cheat the system repay what they owe so that Ohioans who qualify for these important benefits have them,” DeWine said.
Any money recovered from the tax refunds will be deposited into the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund and used to pay future benefits.
ODJFS will start sending letters shortly to anyone who could be involved, ODJFS spokesman Ben Johnson said.
“Hopefully that will get some people to come in and begin to repay these fraudulent debts immediately,” he said. “For those who don’t, we will move ahead with the federal income tax return offset.”