State has seized $26M in tax refunds from unemployment cheats

The state has confiscated more than $26 million in tax refunds this year from people who committed unemployment fraud, officials announced Thursday.

The state has confiscated $26.3 million as of April from people who knowingly collected unemployment insurance while working, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

In the past three years, the program has collected $120.57 million through garnishing tax returns and convincing people to enter debt repayment plans, IDES said.

IDES has garnished tax refunds 58,376 times in the past three years. If a person’s refund can’t cover their debt and they refuse to enter a repayment plan, IDES will continue to seize future refunds until the debt is paid.

Lottery winnings can also be garnished, IDES said.

“Those who steal money from the fund used to help our neighbors who are out of work must be held accountable,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said in the statement.

“We are not talking about innocent people who made a one-time mistake. They knew they were lying, refused to consider a repayment plan when they were caught and made enough money at work to earn a tax refund.”