Nobody ever wants to receive an NOI (Notice of Inspection) from the government, but with the Social Security Agency (SSA) helping to crack down on illegal workers in the United States, SSA "No Match" letters are on the rise again and these could possibly trigger a government audit. SSA in the past sent out a "Request for Employer Information," also known as No Match Letters, but stopped sending them in 2012. As of July 2018, due to the "Buy American, Hire American" Executive Order, No Match letters were sent out regarding 2017 W-2 mismatches, and as of spring 2019, No Match letters will go out regarding mismatched information for 2018 W-2s.
Employers will receive a No Match letter from the SSA when an employee's W-2 information does not match the information that SSA has on file. The letter is sent in an effort for the employer to correct wrong information for an employee, but it strongly suggests not to take action against the employee for a number of reasons: marriage, administrative errors, misspelled names, accidental SS number reversals … the list is endless.
The employer is instructed in the letter as to what actions need to be taken in order to correct mismatched information such as comparing employer information to that of SSA information. Some helpful tips include the following: have the employee check his or her numbers on the SS card to see if they match employers information on file; if there is an error, have the employee contact the SSA to have the error corrected; ensure if the employee was recently married or divorced, that the name is correct on the SS card. Employers must tread very lightly, however, because you don't want to be caught up in a bad alphabet soup consisting of ICE, SSA, and the Immigrant and Employment Rights Section of the Department of Justice (IER) or INA.
If an employer knowingly (or unknowingly) hires an undocumented worker, the fines and penalties are stiff and jail time may even be warranted, depending on the situation, number of violations, repeated offender, etc. SSA W-2 mismatches and I-9 violations are on the rise, and fines have all but doubled since August of 2016 and are based on per error or omission—not per individual form and can be upwards of $2,156 per each violation! The numbers will add up very quickly at that rate. ICE is increasing enforcement officers and special agents from 6,000 by adding 10,000 more mandated agents and officers because of the exponential growth of government audits.
*Penalties for Hiring Undocumented Immigrants
If you have either knowingly (or not) hired an undocumented worker penalties can begin at $375 per undocumented immigrant and up to $1600 per worker for three or more consistent offenses. A fine of $3000 per employee will be charged to repeated offenders and up to six months of jail time could also be enforced.
What are the Civil Violations to look out for?
- "Knowingly hired, or to have knowingly recruited or referred for a fee, an unauthorized alien for employment in the United States or to have knowingly continued to employ an unauthorized alien in the United States
- Failing to comply with Form I-9 employment verification requirements
- Committing or participating in document fraud for satisfying a requirement or benefit of the employment verification process or the INA
- Committing document abuse
- Unlawful discrimination against an employment-authorized individual in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee
- Failing to notify DHS of a Final Non-confirmation (FNC) of an employee's employment eligibility
- Requiring an individual to post a bond or security or to pay an amount or otherwise to provide financial guarantee or indemnity against any potential liability arising under the employment verification requirements"
"Engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee unauthorized aliens."
The U.S. Government does not mess around. If you want to be sure your I-9s, W-4s, State Withholding and Registration, and new-hire paperwork is in order, check with a reputable Human Resources company like Stellaris Group in Roswell, Georgia. Stellaris Group is more than your average HR company—they specialize in all areas of human resources from new hires, terminations, training, I-9 audits, employee and labor relations, government compliance, and so much more.
Prevention is the best way to be sure you are compliant with all government rules and regulations when it comes to properly filling out new hire forms and paperwork.Be safe and confident that you and your employees are safe with an internal I-9 audit by Stellaris Group. You can depend on them to keep you compliant in all areas because all areas matter.