Arizona companies won’t be forced to provide more help to the state to crack down on those who don’t pay their child support.
The Senate has approved a number of changes in laws on child support enforcement. But that 19-4 OK came only after senators stripped off a House-passed provision requiring companies to report the names and social security numbers of individuals with whom they contract.
That victory for businesses, however, may be temporary. Rep. Pete Hershberger, R-Tucson, said he intends to revisit the issue next session.
Hershberger said Arizona ranks dead last of all states and territories in child support enforcement.
Current law requires employers to provide information on people they hire. The state Department of Economic Security uses that data to find parents who are not meeting their legal support obligations.
The problem, said Hershberger, is that list covers only people who actually are hired.
“A lot of these people are going below the radar because they’re not employees,” he said. Instead, they do their work as independent contractors.
His provision on HB2249 would have mandated that any company which expects to pay a contractor at least $5,000 during the coming 12 months must provide information on that person to DES.
Hershberger said that $5,000 threshold was added to ensure that small firms are not burdened by having to file reports on every tiny contract. But even at that, the provision drew criticism in the Senate.
“None of that language would work,” complained Sen. Barbara Leff, R-Paradise Valley, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development. “It was making an employer keep track of every independent contractor that they happened to do business with. ... It was a burden on business, particularly small business.”
Not everyone was convinced that the provision should have been stripped. Sen. Rebecca Rios, D-Apache Junction, said the mandate is no different than what already exists where companies must furnish the same information to DES on employees.
She said companies are aware of the basic information on individuals with whom they contract. That includes the person’s social security number, which the company needs to prepare the 1099 tax statement at the end of the year.
“It’s a matter of fairness,” Rios said. “Everybody’s income needs to be reported. Children should get their child support.”