Undocumented alien satisfactorily reports income to IRS, wins TTD
Case name: Gonzalez v. Rene Stone Work Corp., 16 FLWCLB 69 (Fla. JCC, West Palm Beach 2009).
The judge of compensation claims found that an undocumented alien's cash payments from his employer constituted wages and awarded him temporary total disability benefits.
What it means: Under Florida's workers' compensation law, an employee may satisfy the requirement to report his income "for federal income tax purposes" if he reports his earnings to the Internal Revenue Service in January of the year after his work injury.
Summary: A concrete pillar fell off a forklift and crushed the employee's left leg. He had his leg amputated as a result. The employee testified that he had no Social Security number, did not have a work visa, and was not a resident alien or citizen. He testified that he never reported his earnings to the IRS but was in the process of filing his income taxes for 2008. The employee was paid $58 per day in cash, five days per week. The employee contended that the employer did not provide him with a W-2 form, and he never filled out an employment application or any other tax or employment document. In January 2009, with the aid of an accountant, the employee filed a tax return and applied for a taxpayer identification number. The carrier argued that the employee was not entitled to workers' comp benefits because benefits are calculated based on wages. Since the employee was paid in cash, no income was reported and his wages were zero. The JCC disagreed and awarded the employee benefits.
The JCC noted that a worker is required to show that he reported his wages to the federal government in order to demonstrate his income constituted "wages." However, the employee was in the process of filing his tax return. The JCC noted that while the employee technically was not obligated to report his earnings until April 15, the employee reported his 2008 earnings to the IRS in January 2009.
The JCC also noted that the employee was expected to file a return without any of the documentation an employer is supposed provide to him. The JCC pointed out that the employee was not required to be as knowledgeable about the IRS tax code and tax regulations to the technical degree suggested by the carrier with respect to reporting earnings. The JCC ordered the carrier to pay TTD benefits.
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July 23, 2009
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