unemployment question
August 18, 2011 9:17 PM   Subscribe

gf is currently experiencing what appears to be an audit from the California EDD. What to expect? How screwed are we?

We live in NYC, but she moved here from CA only about 6 months ago. She has been collecting unemployment for about 4 of those months. She's a freelance musician, so she'll periodically get hired to do a gig here or there by various and sundry organizations. She typically reports these earnings on her unemployment forms regardless of the amount, because she truly wants to be on the up and up. Well, it turns out that one such gig caught the eye of the CA EDD - they had all kinds of questions about whether or not gf is an employee or an independent contractor. GF is concerned about the ramifications for the various organizations in question - are they in danger of greater scrutiny from the EDD and/or IRS? Is gf in danger of losing unemployment benefits, having to return some money she already received, or catching the eye of the IRS and being audited?
posted by fingers_of_fire to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'll share my experiences with unemployment, though naturally YMMV. It's gonna differ by state.

I collected unemployment from California in 2009. I has some part-time temp work while I employed, but I still collected (which is legal.) They wanted to audit me or talk to me about my work reporting. I was on vacation and completely missed their attempt to set an phone appointment with me as well as missing the actual phone appointment. They determined my guilt without even speaking to me - I ended up getting a "penalty" where I couldn't make a claim for 2 weeks or some set amount of time. It was no biggie.

I collected unemployment from Pennsylvania back in 2002. Months after I finished collecting, they audited my account, determined I was not eligible, and I had to pay back all the money I had collected. They were complete fuckers about it and I hate them with the burning fire of 10,000 suns.
posted by gnutron at 9:39 PM on August 18, 2011

Are you sure it's an audit because yeah, they make a lot of things like that sound serious but then they just deny you two weeks of benefits for that period. But get this: you can collect it at the end. They tack it onto the end of your benefits period! Don't ask for a hearing or interiew, just let them deny it and collect at the end. I have no idea why no one makes this clear.

If you are being pulled in for something serious, you should get representation. You're asking for trouble if you don't.
posted by DesmondDoomsday at 9:59 PM on August 18, 2011

I've been...called by CA EDD to question some things about my claim. It might have been called an audit, I don't remember.

I agree that they just refuse to pay you any two week period that's the slightest bit off (I think I was sick one week and they refused to pay me for that and then the next week I got my job offer and stopped looking and they refused to pay me for that). They pulled my claim for scrutiny when I moved to another state so I wouldn't be surprised if that was part of it for your girlfriend.

I would not expect that any of the places she worked would get problems from the IRS (well, unless there's something totally off, like they're abusing independent contractors who should be employees--CA EDD could potentially report that to NY's tax people and the IRS). I would not expect her to get any hassles at all from the IRS. She is in danger of losing unemployment benefits or having to return some money (more likely, as I said above, they'll just refuse to pay for upcoming weeks).

Here's how it works: you get the letter saying 'hey we think something's off and we'd like to call you.' You set up a time they can call you. They call you, and ask you questions; they're perfectly polite but they don't tell you much about what they've concluded. In my case, I thought I'd be getting the money still and instead EDD was like 'haha, not a chance.' So, be sure to ask them at the end what will happen to your claim as otherwise you have to wait for the next letter. The next letter either gives you money or tells you you're not getting money this period but you're (usually) still allowed to claim again next period. And bam, audit over. It's not that rough, really.

Is there a reason she's not claiming in NY now that she's gotten gigs there? I don't know how it works (I've only filed for unemployment the once and don't know the ins and outs as well as some) but I'd look into that if possible. CA EDD is going to be reluctant to continue paying unemployment for someone who moved to another state and I would expect continuing bumps from them.
posted by librarylis at 12:30 PM on August 20, 2011

Response by poster: unless there's something totally off, like they're abusing independent contractors who should be employees--CA EDD could potentially report that to NY's tax people and the IRS)

I think this is precisely what she's worried about, as she doesn't want to create problems for anyone else. Hard to know how EDD is going to treat the whole thing, and it's creating a certain amount of stress and anxiety.

We've both claimed unemployment in CA from NY - I did it a few years ago after working for about 4 months in CA. In my case, the guy I spoke with at EDD suggested that I do it that way 'cuz CA's unemployment benefits are higher than NY's. I'm pretty sure my gf got the same advice.

Thanks for the responses!
posted by fingers_of_fire at 4:04 PM on August 20, 2011

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