Guest Column by Senator Bob Peterson:
Our neighbors and families have been through so much during the COVID-19 Pandemic. I am deeply concerned to learn about an attempt to steal relief funds targeted for our families that leaves them with the bill. This is extremely important information and I ask that you closely check your U.S. Mail.
As you may have heard, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is reporting a disturbingly high incidence of fraudulent claims in Ohio’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Many Ohioans who did not apply for unemployment benefits have started to receive 1099 tax forms from ODJFS for fraudulent claims made on their behalf using their stolen personal information.
Due to the gravity of this issue, I want to provide you with the necessary information you may need in case you or a member of your family receives a 1099-G for an unemployment claim you did not submit.
First, I strongly encourage you to report the identity theft at www.unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov by clicking on the “REPORT IDENTITY THEFT” button and completing the form. This will allow ODJFS to verify that the claim is indeed fraud, and help protect you from having to pay taxes on benefits you did not file for or receive.
According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, once ODJFS verifies the ID theft claim, a corrected 1099-G form should be sent to you, and you should keep the corrected form for your records.
For tax filing purposes, the Ohio Department of Taxation has issued the following guidance:
"Generally, you should not include unemployment benefits you did not apply for as income on your federal and state income tax returns. You do not need to have a determination from ODJFS on your ID theft claim or a corrected 1099-G to file your federal and state income tax returns. However, you should continue to pursue a corrected 1099-G from ODJFS after your returns are filed to avoid a future audit by the IRS or ODT."
A new joint committee has been established within the Ohio Legislature to work with the administration to not only determine how this happened, but to make sure Ohio’s ODJFS system is secure and ready for the future. Unfortunately cyber criminals are very good at what they do, and we must do more to close the door on them.
To protect your identity from future fraud, I encourage you to review the available resources from the Ohio Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission. Please be assured that I understand the severity of this issue and I am working with the administration to address it.
Should you have any questions about what to do if you receive a 1099-G for an unemployment claim you did not make, or questions in general about suspected unemployment fraud, please do not hesitate to contact my office at Peterson@OhioSenate.gov or (614) 466-8156.