ALBANY — A state audit has found lapses at a program that rewards employers who hire young workers — including a 62-year-old who was deemed eligible for the program.
The review, published Thursday by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, found several problems in the state-run program, including nearly $200,000 in questionable tax credits. Some of the companies that received the credits hired employees who were too old for the program, while others didn’t adequately verify their employee’s eligibility.
The Associated Press was first to publish the results of the audit.
The jobs program, started in 2011, encourages employers to hire at-risk youth ages 16 to 24 by awarding tax credits of up to $500 for a full-time worker. To be eligible, a worker must meet also meet certain criteria, such as living in public housing or being a foster child. The program covers the state’s largest cities in addition to some smaller ones with significant pockets of poverty.
DiNapoli’s auditors recommended changes in the way the state verifies worker eligibility, including possibly requiring more information from young employees.
“Better oversight and verification of participants’ eligibility is needed to prevent companies getting questionable tax breaks,” DiNapoli said in a statement accompanying the audit. “These tax credits exist to benefit businesses and the young people they hire and should only go to those who meet the program’s requirements.”
The Department of Labor disagreed with some of his recommendations, saying requiring more information from young workers might prevent them from participating.
In its formal response to the audit, the department said the program’s verification rules are intended “to be as stringent as necessary to ensure only eligible youth participate in the program, without discouraging youth participation.”