UC amnesty nearly over - abc27 WHTM

UC amnesty nearly over

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For a typically mundane government agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has a bold website for its amnesty program: payitback.pa.gov.

Banners on the site in large type ominously scream:




There's also a radio blitz in the Philadelphia and Harrisburg media markets with a serious-toned man and woman saying time is running out and to pay up now or face higher penalties and "even legal action."

The state is pursuing workers who were overpaid unemployment compensation and collected money they didn't deserve.

It's also after employers who didn't pay unemployment taxes into the fund for their employees.

Those offenders can settle up now without penalty and only half the usual interest.

"These people know who they are," Labor and Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway said. "They know how much they owe. They've all gotten numerous letters. They just need to take the step and pay it."

"It's been a great program," said Dave Reinhart, a CPA with Hershey firm Smoker, Smith & Associates.

Reinhart said a handful of his clients have taken advantage of the no-fee amnesty. He encourages everyone to pay up before the fees go up.

"Over time, if you go back one, two or a three-year period, those penalties can actually outweigh the total amount of tax that's owed for that period of time," he said.

Cue the deep-voiced woman in the radio spot, "the clock is ticking and time is running out."

The grace period is the state dangling a carrot. It ends August 31. The state will then employ the stick and aggressively pursue violators.

"You could have liens placed against you," Hearthway said. "You could have your credit rating destroyed. If you're collecting unemployment in the future, those unemployment payments will be withheld until that debt is paid."

Hearthway also said she's talked to district attorneys around the state to pursue legal action against those identified as non-compliant.

Of course, nobody likes paying more in taxes.

Nobody likes giving back money they've already spent.

But procrastinate another week and that bill will only get higher.

This is the first time L&I has offered such amnesty and Reinhart insists its wise to take the deal.

"That doesn't mean they have to like it, but it gives them the opportunity to pay it and perhaps sleep better at night," he said.


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