Court says how info is acquired can determine accountability


It’s time of year again: Some Payroll pros are getting peppered with returned W-2s that are marked undeliverable.


That’s despite all of your hard work in making sure you got the correct address the first time around.


And all those W-2s that are coming back? Your department could be held responsible – even when the address problem stems from a mistake an employee made.


You can be on the hook


A case recently made it all the way to the New York State Tax Appeals Tribunal.


Here’s what happened: A worker gave his address to the Division of Taxation in New York over the phone.


Unfortunately, that wasn’t the correct address.


When the Division tried to mail him an important tax documentation, the mail didn’t make it to him.


He was later penalized for not responding to the document in time.


But here’s the part where it gets interesting: The Tribunal is pointing the blame at the Division for taking down the address over the phone.


Getting it over the phone was outside of its policy. If the Division had followed its own policy, it would have gotten the address in writing.


In that instance, the fault would have been on the employee.


Preventing the same mistake


This case is an excellent reminder of the importance of policies.


Review your department’s policies to endure they require staffers to get all information in writing.


Even when someone is offsite and can’t fill out a form, it’s better to get the information in an email than over the phone.


Finally, you’ll want to remind staffers of the importance of sticking to your department’s policy for each and every employee.


No exceptions should be made unless the information given over the phone is later substantiated – but that should be avoided at all costs. You’ll want to have proof in writing.