Despite amended W-2s, WBRSO employees still overpaid taxes for two years
PORT ALLEN- For five years (2013-2017), hundreds of thousands of dollars were overpaid to the federal government in taxes after a payroll oversight caused all of the employees at the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office to have taxes taken out of their retirement contributions.
Their pension account functions much like a 401K, where you are taxed when you take the money out. For some unknown reason, the payroll company the WBR Sheriff's Office was using took taxes out of the money on the front end. It was caught after a new accountant was hired and led to amended W-2s being reissued for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
It was also discovered the problem affected 2013 and 2014, but WBR Sheriff's Office spokesman Dale Simoneaux said federal tax laws prohibit them from doing anything about those two years. Simoneaux said you can only file amended returns to the IRS for the past three years.
A concerned woman, who did not want to be identified out of fear of retaliation from the sheriff, said for the past year she's been trying to have a meeting with the sheriff about this. She said refiling her taxes during those years led to her getting thousands of dollars back.
"I want him (Sheriff Cazes) to be accountable to the problem," the concerned resident said. "Even though it was a payroll firm that he hired, it was the sheriff's office or whoever hires these companies for the numbers that are put on the W-2s. The idea that it took five years to catch the problem, and here we are almost two years later and the earlier two years have still not been fixed."
Simoneaux said other sheriff's offices around the state were also affected by the same glitch. He said when West Baton Rouge realized there was a problem, they immediately reissued W-2s to all the employees. But, the W-2s from 2013 and 2014 could not be reissued. He called this entire situation politically motivated.
The woman speaking up said there is nothing political about this. She believes the oversight should have been caught sooner.
"It needs to stop at the sheriff," she said. "He hired this company. He needs to own up to it and find a way to fix it. Reach out to a tax attorney and see what other options there are to get the money back for his employees."
The sheriff's office said it did do that, and there is no recourse at this point. A memo obtained by WBRZ and sent from Simoneaux back in 2018, states the problem was at no fault of their office.
That's not entirely true, as some believe better oversight could have stopped this. We talked to sources in the department who said they had no idea after they were reissued W-2s for three years, that there were two other years they also overpaid.