Tuesday, November 02, 2010

`Invalid' Forms by Supposed Billionaires Skew U.S. Wage Figures

From Bloomberg.com:

The Social Security Administration asked its inspector general to investigate how a $32.3 billion mistake skewed its statistics on 2009 wages in the U.S.

Two people were found to have filed multiple W-2 forms that made them into multibillionaires, an agency official said yesterday. Those reports threw statistical wage tables out of whack and, in figures released Oct. 15, made it appear that top U.S. earners had seen their pay quintuple in 2009 to an average of $519 million.

The agency yesterday released corrected tables that showed the average incomes of the top earners, in fact, declined 7.7 percent to $84 million each.

Social Security spokesman Mark Lassiter provided few details about the W-2 forms and declined to answer questions about how they were filed, how many were filed by the same two people, or if a hoax was suspected. “We call it erroneous, you call it fictitious. It’s the same thing,” Lassiter said. “There were some invalid, I guess is the best way to put it, W- 2s.”

The W-2 is a tax form on which employers report their workers’ compensation. Taxpayers must provide a copy when they file tax returns.

Lassiter said this is the first time Social Security statistics have been affected by erroneous filings. A written request detailing concerns about the data was sent yesterday to the Office of the Inspector General, he said.

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