Muriel Bowser

Social Security, Medicare Wasn't Withheld From Hundreds of DC Government Employees' Paychecks Over Decades

Several hundred current and former D.C. government employees did not have Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from the paychecks dating back 30 years.

News4 reported in April 2017 a comprehensive review of the government’s retirement uncovered the problem affecting hundreds of people and dating back 10 years. That prompted a larger audit into how many people are affected and how the mistake happened. The audit found the problem had been going on for about three decades.

D.C. Department of Human Resources Director Ventris Gibson said her staff has gone through employee records by hand.

“We’ve reviewed thousands of records,” she said. “Of those thousands, several hundred will receive notices.”

The notices inform employees they will begin to see about 1.4 percent of their pay withheld in box six on their paychecks.

Gibson said the mistake was a perfect storm of problems over three decades.

“It’s really human error as well as tech error as well as migration to different types of technology, so that is what drove the mistake,” she said.

Employees will not be responsible for repaying the taxes. That is the government’s responsibility. It’s unclear how much that will cost the District.

As for employees who have already retired and are collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits, the D.C. government is working with the IRS and Social Security Administration to ensure their benefits are correct.

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration implemented several other steps:

  • Hired independent auditor
  • Education and awareness for employees
  • Centralized payroll processing
  • Hired nine new employees
  • Full-time tax retirement team
  • Dedicated phone line

“I hope a year from now I can call you and tell you this is solved, this is where we are,” Gibson said. “Whether we find more people or not, the audit continues.”

The Department of Human Resources set up a hotline at 202-727-1578 for current and former employees can see if they are affected.

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