Social Security “No Match” Letters Are Back and Shouldn’t Be Taken Lightly

April 29, 2019

In March 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that it will begin to notify employers if a wage and tax statement (Form W-2) contains a name and Social Security number (SSN) that does not match the SSA’s official records.

The issuance of “no match” letters is not a new practice. The SSA began sending these letters in 1993 until they were suspended by the Obama administration in 2012. There is speculation that the revival of the “no match” letters is part of the Trump’s administration efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, an issue that has historically plagued industries such as restaurants, hotels, and food distributors.

Employers that receive a “no match” letter about one of their employees should not panic or assume that the letter is regarding an unauthorized or undocumented worker, for which their business is liable. The employer can resolve the matter by taking the following actions:

  • Confirm that the employee’s information matches to what is on file.
  • If there is still a discrepancy, inform the employee and ask them to confirm his or her name and/or SSN.
  • If the discrepancy still exists, advise the employee to reach out to the SSA to have his or her records updated.
  • FOLLOW UP with the employee regarding their progress towards resolving the “no match” issue.
  • Employers should contact immigration counsel if the employee does not respond or resolve the issue.

The reappearance of “no match” letters should serve as a reminder to employers of all industries — particularly restaurant, hotel, and food distribution owners — to verify both the identity and employment authorization of prospective employees before hiring. Failure to properly complete and maintain I-9 forms could put a company in legal jeopardy and force the business to pay expensive fines.

Our tax specialists are available for consultation on this issue and other business management matters for restaurants, hotels, or food distributors. Please contact our hospitality tax advisors or Aaron Boker at 301.231.6200 for more information.