BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – State leaders for the fifth day in a row continued to grapple with the scope of a technical error at the Vermont Department of Labor that compromised the identities of thousands of Vermonters.
The snafu, first announced Monday, involves upward of 44,000 1099-G tax forms that were sent out to the wrong address. ”We certainly apologize to all of those impacted. This shouldn’t have happened. We are going to work to make this right,” Gov. Phil Scott said Friday.
Three state government teams are now digging into the situation — to protect the unemployment claimants from identity-theft, to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and to get the correct 1099-G forms out.
“The ones that were issued by the Department of Labor have been identified as incorrect and they’re going through a process to issue correct ones,” said Vt. Tax Commissioner Craig Bolio. He instructed those impacted to wait for an envelope from the state to return their 1099s if it has either the Labor Department’s return address on the original envelope or on the 1099 form itself. The state is sending out the pre-paid envelopes by the middle of next week.
“Don’t disregard the ones from the Department of Taxes because those are accurate and should be used for the upcoming filings,” Bolio said.
Officials are also scrambling to protect the identities of those whose information could have been compromised. The state will pay up to $7 million for identity theft protection. They’re still deciding on who will provide those services.
Lawmakers say they’re ready to help mitigate the damage. “They should know almost immediately that the Legislature is going to step up, they are going to fix this problem, and we are going to pay for services that help prevent any further distribution of these numbers or hurt peoples’ credit ratings or their loan possibilities,” said Sen. Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden County.
Although Governor Scott installed a new deputy commissioner at the labor department this week, he says Commissioner Mike Harrington is still in charge and that he has confidence in his ability to lead the department.