Real Life Case: Underreporting Payroll for Workers Comp
Some business owners think they can hide or under-report payroll data as a way to save money on taxes and workers' compensation premiums. There are several different ways they can hide payroll data, but it is still a crime that very few prosecutors will turn down. Although this is done to save money, the price of self defense in criminal court and the repercussions of having a criminal record are both costly. In addition to this, the risk of ending a business career can compromise a person's long-term income. The following is a case where a business lost about $100,000 by trying to dodge workers' comp premium obligations.
The owner of a building company was convicted of workers' compensation insurance premium fraud for not reporting some of his employees to his insurer or the Employment Development Department. The owner's daughter was convicted of misdemeanor insurance fraud. Another member of the owner's family who worked there was convicted of felony insurance fraud.
Experts say fraud is an enterprise that brings in billions of dollars, but it provides artificial inflation costs to insurance companies and consumers. In a collaborative effort by the local district attorney's office and the Department of Insurance, the investigation on the business owner started after an employee was injured. The owner paid his workers in cash in order to avoid paying insurance premiums. However, the investigators found evidence that all three of the convicted parties had worked together to convince workers to take cash payments.
The employee who was injured required surgery, but the business owner tried to dispute the worker's claim. Instead, the owner offered the injured worker a disability application form for state assistance, and he instructed the worker to claim the injury occurred at home. The company was ordered to pay more than $45,000 in premium restitution, about $30,000 in EDD back taxes and more than $35,000 in restitution to the injured worker.
It is not easy to hide payroll information, and employees will be vocal if they are injured. In addition to this, there are other ways to track this type of fraud. If an employee is injured, employers should remember that any under-the-table agreements will likely be exposed. Injured employees must look out for themselves and their families. Many other cases are worse. Employees may accumulate higher bills for hospital stays and rehabilitative services. The cost of paying their bills could be much higher than $100,000, and the cost of business disruptions and legal fees would run into the hundreds of thousands. Recovering from an incident such as this is also difficult, and most business owners have to start over from scratch. In comparison with the cost of such a mess, the cost of workers' compensation insurance premiums is minimal. Every employer should remember that it is not worth the risk.