The office that handles payroll for Hillsborough County government had to tell employees not to file their federal income taxes right away because the W-2s they received were likely wrong.
The Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court and Comptroller discovered the problem as the Jan. 31 deadline for employers to distribute the forms approached. Amended W-2s — the employer-provided forms that disclose taxable income an employee has received — arrived last week.
County clerk’s officials say nearly all of the approximately 6,600 people employed by the county and the clerk’s office were affected. They also notified another 1,150 former employees who worked for the county in 2022 that they may have received incorrect W-2s.
The county already was the subject of recent complaints from its employees who say they were not fully paid before the holidays. Private vendors have also complained the county was taking too long to pay them.
“It’s affecting everything. Morale is down. It’s issue after issue after issue,” said Chaz Hicks, a steward for the county employees’ union, Local 167 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.
A Jan. 31 letter to past employees contained this piece of advice: Don’t file your federal tax return until you receive an amended W-2 form.
A note posted at one county work site said the inaccurate information was tied to boxes 12 and 14 on the W-2 statements, Hicks said.
Box 12 is used to report miscellaneous income items, such as the nontaxable cost of employer-sponsored health care coverage, group life insurance and retirement plan contributions. Box 14 is used to report such things as the cost of tuition assistance, charitable contributions through payroll deductions and payments for work uniforms.
The county switched to a new system, Oracle Payroll, in October. Employees later complained of their checks being shorted near the holidays, a problem that was attributed, in part, to human error in filling out time sheets.
Earlier this month, Hillsborough County Commissioner Joshua Wostal voiced concerns about slow payments to businesses providing goods and services to the county government.
“It’s becoming a serious challenge for our government to operate effectively,” Wostal told fellow commissioners Feb. 15.
In a later text to the Tampa Bay Times, Wostal said, “The Oracle integration is creating delays that the Oracle contractor should have anticipated ... to avoid these vendor payment delays that we are now experiencing as well as the past payroll delays.”
Wostal said he had been through a payroll conversion process in the private sector and wanted to offer help if it was needed.
The clerk’s office put the blame on Oracle, saying it made a data conversion error that caused the W-2 forms to be incorrect.
“Implementation has been a challenge,” acknowledged Carson Chambers, spokesperson for Hillsborough Clerk of the Court and Comptroller Cindy Stuart.
Spend your days with Hayes
Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
A spokesperson for Oracle declined to comment.
The employees will need to provide both the original W-2 form and the corrected one when they file their taxes. The Internal Revenue Service website includes information on the procedure to follow if a person believes their W-2 form is incorrect.
“A county this big, we just should not be having any of these issues,” said Hicks. “Problems keep going on and they need to be corrected in a timely manner.”