State to recoup millions that should not have been lost in the first place |

State to recoup millions that should not have been lost in the first place

It’s hard to decide whether we should be happy that the state is taking steps to recover millions of dollars it was losing out on either through mistakes or fraud, or whether we should be angry it was happening in the first place.

In recent days, auditors have said the state is losing millions in uncollected insurance premium taxes. Auditors sampled just 57 of the 1,700 insurance companies and found errors – in the companies’ favor, of course – totaling about $17 million for 2000-04. The total would likely be much higher if all the companies were audited.

The problem is that the Department of Taxation is not equipped to handle the job, which, in a monumental blunder, it was given in 1993 from the Insurance Division. The department admits it does not have the expertise to scrutinize those reports, nor has it been allocated the money to do so. It has only one insurance examiner to review tax reports submitted by the 1,700 companies.

On another front, the state’s Division of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation will now be able to track people who collect unemployment benefits here while working in other states, The agency was also criticized by auditors, and now, by joining a federal database, will save an estimated $2.6 million a year.

The statute of limitations means the state won’t be able to recoup millions from the insurance companies, which will we hope will at least provide a lesson about the importance of accounting for every dollar. They owe the public at least that much.