2019 Mississippi Code
Title 71 - Labor and Industry
Chapter 5 - Unemployment Compensation
Article 7 - Contributions.
§ 71-5-389. Setoff against tax refunds for debts owed to Mississippi Department of Employment Security; submission of debts to Department of Revenue; notice to debtor; transfer of funds to Department of Revenue; hearings; appeals; confidentiality
(1) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the respective meanings ascribed by this section:
(a) “Claimant agency” means the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.
(b) “Debtor” means any individual, corporation or partnership owing money or having a delinquent account with any claimant agency, which obligation has not been adjudicated satisfied by court order, set aside by court order, or discharged in bankruptcy.
(c) “Debt” means any sum due and owing any claimant agency, including costs, court costs, fines, penalties and interest which have accrued through contract, subrogation, tort, operation of law, or any other legal theory regardless of whether there is an outstanding judgment for that sum which is legally collectible and for which a collection effort has been or is being made.
(d) “Department” or “Department of Revenue” means the Department of Revenue of the State of Mississippi.
(e) “Refund” means the Mississippi income tax refund which the department determines to be due any individual taxpayer, corporation or partnership.
(2) The collection remedy authorized by this section is in addition to and is not substitution for any other remedy available by law.
(a) A claimant agency may submit debts in excess of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) owed to it to the department for collection through setoff, under the procedure established by this section, except in cases where the validity of the debt is legitimately in dispute, an alternate means of collection is pending and believed to be adequate, or such collection would result in a loss of federal funds or federal assistance.
(b) Upon the request of a claimant agency, the department shall set off any refund, as defined herein, against the sum certified by the claimant agency as provided in this section.
(a) Within the time frame specified by the department, a claimant agency seeking to collect a debt through setoff shall supply the information necessary to identify each debtor whose refund is sought to be set off and certify the amount of debt or debts owed by each such debtor.
(b) If a debtor identified by a claimant agency is determined by the department to be entitled to a refund of at least Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00), the department shall transfer an amount equal to the refund owed, not to exceed the amount of the claimed debt certified, to the claimant agency. The Department of Revenue shall send the excess amount to the debtor within a reasonable time after such excess is determined. At the time of the transfer of funds to a claimant agency pursuant to this paragraph (b), the Department of Revenue shall notify the taxpayer or taxpayers whose refund is sought to be set off that the transfer has been made. Such notice shall clearly set forth the name of the debtor, the manner in which the debt arose, the amount of the claimed debt, the transfer of funds to the claimant agency pursuant to this paragraph (b) and the intention to set off the refund against the debt, the amount of the refund in excess of the claimed debt, the taxpayer’s opportunity to give written notice to contest the setoff within thirty (30) days of the date of mailing of the notice, the name and mailing address of the claimant agency to which the application for such a hearing must be sent, and the fact that the failure to apply for such a hearing, in writing, within the thirty-day period will be deemed a waiver of the opportunity to contest the setoff. In the case of a joint return or a joint refund, the notice shall also state the name of the taxpayer named in the return, if any, against whom no debt is claimed, the fact that a debt is not claimed against such taxpayer, the fact that such taxpayer is entitled to receive a refund if it is due him regardless of the debt asserted against his spouse, and that in order to obtain a refund due him such taxpayer must apply in writing for a hearing with the claimant agency named in the notice within thirty (30) days of the date of the mailing of the notice. If a taxpayer fails to apply in writing for such a hearing within thirty (30) days of the mailing of such notice, he will have waived his opportunity to contest the setoff.
(c) Upon receipt of funds transferred from the Department of Revenue pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subsection, the claimant agency shall deposit and hold such funds in an escrow account until a final determination of the validity of the debt.
(d) The claimant agency shall pay the Department of Revenue a fee, not to exceed Seventeen Dollars ($17.00) in each case in which a tax refund is identified as being available for offset. Such fees shall be deposited by the Department of Revenue into a special fund hereby created in the State Treasury, out of which the Legislature shall appropriate monies to defray expenses of the Department of Revenue in employing personnel to administer the provisions of this section.
(a) When the claimant agency receives a protest or an application in writing from a taxpayer within thirty (30) days of the notice issued by the Department of Revenue, the claimant agency shall set a date to hear the protest and give notice to the taxpayer through the United States Postal Service or electronic digital transfer of the date so set. The time and place of such hearing shall be designated in such notice and the date set shall not be less than fifteen (15) days from the date of such notice. If, at the hearing, the sum asserted as due and owing is found not to be correct, an adjustment to the claim may be made. The claimant agency shall give notice to the debtor of its final determination as provided in paragraph (c) of this subsection.
(b) No issues shall be reconsidered at the hearing which have been previously litigated.
(c) If any debtor is dissatisfied with the final determination made at the hearing by the claimant agency, he may appeal the final determination to the circuit court of the county in which the main office of the claimant agency is located by filing notice of appeal with the administrative head of the claimant agency and with the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the appeal shall be taken within thirty (30) days from the date the notice of final determination was given by the claimant agency.
(a) Upon final determination of the amount of the debt due and owing by means of hearing or by the taxpayer’s default through failure to comply with timely request for review, the claimant agency shall remove the amount of the debt due and owing from the escrow account and credit such amount to the debtor’s obligation.
(b) Upon transfer of the debt due and owing from the escrow account to the credit of the debtor’s account, the claimant agency shall notify the debtor in writing of the finalization of the setoff. Such notice shall include a final accounting if the refund which was set off, including the amount of the refund to which the debtor was entitled prior to the setoff, the amount of the debt due and owing, the amount of the collection fee paid to the Department of Revenue, the amount of the refund in excess of the debt which was returned to the debtor by the Department of Revenue, and the amount of the funds transferred to the claimant agency in excess of the debt determined to be due and owing at a hearing, if such a hearing was held. At such time, the claimant agency shall refund to the debtor the amount of the claimed debt originally certified and transferred to it by the Department of Revenue in excess of the amount of debt finally found to be due and owing.
(a) Notwithstanding the provision that prohibits disclosure by the Department of Revenue of the contents of taxpayer records or information and notwithstanding any other confidentiality statute, the Department of Revenue may provide to a claimant agency all information necessary to accomplish and effectuate the intent of the section.
(b) The information obtained by claimant agency from the Department of Revenue in accordance with the provisions of this section shall retain its confidentiality and shall only be used by a claimant agency in the pursuit of its debt collection duties and practices; and any employee or prior employee of any claimant agency who unlawfully discloses any such information for any other purpose, except as specifically authorized by law, shall be subject to the same penalties specified by law for unauthorized confidential information by an agent or employee of the Department of Revenue.