Social Security Administration no-match letters are back.

Position:Nuts & Bolts

Starting in 1993, the Social Security Administration began sending Request for Employer Information Letters--colloquially known as "no-match letters"--when it found information on an employee's tax documents that did not match his or her Social Security records.

The letters helped uncover and resolve clerical errors, but also helped the government identify employees and employers that were using fraudulent information to hide illegal activity.

No-match letters have been challenged in courts and, depending on an administration's stomach for battle, they have risen and fallen in favor. The Obama administration stopped sending them in 2012.

Last year, the Trump administration resumed sending no-match letters, with the ambitious goal of mailing 225,000 notices every two weeks.

THE LAW The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 govern U.S. immigration policy.

For each new employee hired, U.S. employers must complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The I-9 establishes the employee's identity and his or her legal work status. Employers may only hire people who are eligible to work legally in this country.

The IRCA also bars employers from discriminating against employees based on their immigration status.

New employees must fill out Section 1 of the I-9 on their first day of work. Employers must complete Section 2 for each employee within three days after the person starts work.

Employers must keep an employee's I-9 on file for three years after his or her hiring date or for one year after the date of the person's termination, whichever comes later. Failing to complete I-9 forms can lead to significant penalties.

WHAT'S NEW The Trump administration is using no-match letters to help enforce the president's Buy American, Hire American Executive Order. The program will continue in the spring of 2019, when the SSA will be comparing 2018 W-2 tax form data to its records and informing employers when there is a discrepancy.

No-match letters and E-Verify

SSA no-match letters will be sent out for any discrepancy found on W-2 forms, whether or not the employer uses the government's online E-Verify employment eligibility verification system.

Instead of a no-match letter, employers using E-Verify may receive a similar Tentative Nonconformation notice when entering information into that system. A Tentative Nonconformation notice indicates a discrepancy between I-9 information and the SSA's...

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