[Question Concerning Deobligation of National Mediation Board Salary and Expense Payments]

B-217475: May 5, 1986

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The National Mediation Board requested a decision regarding whether: (1) it could deobligate funds for compensation and expenses earned by an independent arbitrator over 6 years ago; or (2) it should pay those funds to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to satisfy a tax levy. The arbitrator earned the monies over a long period of time but did not submit vouchers to claim them, and the Board could not accurately determine its potential liability. GAO held that: (1) the portion of the arbitrator's potential claim that accrued more than 6 years before IRS notified the Board of the levy should be returned to the Treasury because any such claim would be barred; (2) the Board could not pay any funds to IRS to satisfy the levy until the arbitrator claimed them and thereby established the Board's exact liability; and (3) if the arbitrator submitted a claim, IRS could assert a lien against all funds to which he might be entitled. Accordingly, the Board may deobligate funds for any claim which accrued more than 6 years before IRS notified it of the levy and may not pay IRS any funds until the arbitrator submits a claim.

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