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Assistance in material need is not subject to debt collection procedures

14. 05. 2020

By mistake, the labour office did not pay a benefit under assistance in material need to the complainant by means of a postal order, but rather sent it to her attached bank account. The bank immediately transferred it to the competent municipal authority, which, as the tax administrator, ordered its attachment with a view to collecting an outstanding local fee for municipal waste. The complainant asked for a refund of the benefit but the municipal authority dismissed her request three times in spite of a confirmation issued by the labour office that the amount in question represented assistance in material need, which cannot be subject to attachment.

According the Ombudsman’s opinion, assistance in material need is not subject to any debt collection (attachment) procedure even after it has been remitted to a bank account. The tax administrator is not obliged to examine the nature (source) of the funds in a debtor’s account when ordering debt collection by assigning a receivable from his account. However, once the debtor proves that a part of the funds credited to his/her account is not subject to attachment (proves that their source is not subject to debt collection), the tax administrator must discontinue the debt collection procedure and refund the money to this extent.

Only after the case was published did the superior regional authority intervene and the complainant got the unlawfully attached money back.
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