Prince William school system to pay $1.4M tax lien to the Virginia Employment Commission

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The Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center serves as the administrative office facility for Prince William County Schools. (Courtesy Prince William County Public Schools)

Prince William County Public Schools must pay a tax lien of nearly $1.4 million for alleged past due Virginia unemployment taxes, though a school division official told InsideNoVa they believe many of the unemployment claims are fraudulent.

The Virginia Employment Commission notified the school division of 2,500 unemployment claims, most of which stem from the COVID-19 pandemic. Fraudulent unemployment claims were a rampant issue for businesses across the country during the pandemic.

“As a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, PWCS is committed to ensuring that all spending meets local, state, and federal laws and regulations. Unfortunately, despite paying all employees during the pandemic, many fraudulent claims, with confirmed cases of identity theft, were filed with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), who paid the claims,” said Diana Gulotta, the director of communications for the school division.

Gulotta said the school division reported approximately 500 of the 2,500 claims as potentially fraudulent, with 351 of the claims confirmed as involving identity theft.

The school division has been “frustrated by the lack of responsiveness from VEC officials,” Gulotta told InsideNoVa, as she said the school division struggled to obtain documentation from the commission to verify claims.

Gulotta also pointed out that an audit from the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission found the Virginia Employment Commission did not begin using some critical fraud prevention and detection best practices until 2021.

The public information officer for the Virginia Employment Commission said the commission has been in contact with the school division and there have been multiple conversations, but, for confidentiality reasons, could not provide further details.

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