Federal savings plan sends out erroneous payments

By Joe Davidson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 3, 2011; 7:17 PM

The Thrift Savings Program, a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees, announced Monday that it had mistakenly sent payments to thousands of people and that it wants the money back.

In many cases, it's a lot of money - $10,000 or more.

"Due to a processing error late last week, approximately 9,700 of our 4.4 million participants were erroneously issued notices and payments regarding minimum distributions for participants over age 70 ½," agency spokesman Thomas Trabucco said in a statement. "We have identified those affected and are currently contacting them to correct their accounts. Participants will be advised how to return their checks, and accounts will be made whole."

The recipients would have received the money eventually, he said, just not now. They don't have to return it, he said, but if they keep the loot, they will have to pay taxes on it.

"It's their money," Trabucco said.

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