PHOENIX - New numbers reveal more than 16,000 people who've collected unemployment benefits in Arizona, or were fraudulently targeted, have reported tax problems and the deadline to file is nearing.
Thousands of victims of unemployment fraud in Arizona received a tax form from the state telling them to claim money they never asked for or received.
It’s been a battle Christine Lahaie never wanted.
"I would say I probably have 48 hours at least between sitting on hold, waiting, doing the paperwork, getting ahold of everybody," Lahaie says.
In early February, she received a 1099-G tax form in the mail claiming she received 3,400 dollars in unemployment benefits.
But the problem is that she’s retired. So likely someone fraudulently filed for benefits in her name with the Department of Economic Security (DES).
The state said anyone in her shoes should contact DES and get a new form in a week. However, seven weeks later, she’s still waiting.
"I’m going to go ahead and file my taxes and I’m not going to report that $3,400 because I never received it. If they want to come after me, I’m 70-years-old, go for it," Lahaie says.
Updated numbers from DES reveal 16,300 people have contacted the agency for issues with their 1099-G.
About 750 of those who contacted the agency say they collected unemployment but that the amount on the form is wrong. 2,700 people like Chris say they received it because of fraud. 11,900 claim they’re still waiting for the correct form.
However, DES says many of those complaints were before the state's deadline to get forms out.
Michael Martinez says his form is wrong and still waiting for a replacement like Chris.
"For mine, it was like a $450 difference," he says. He can’t get the stimulus check until he files his taxes.
If you can’t get an updated form from DES, the IRS says to only file the income you received despite what a 1099-G says.
For more information on the form, visit this link https://des.az.gov/services/employment/unemployment-individual/1099-g-tax-forms