Joyce Driggers’ secret weapon is Scotch tape.
She keeps a roll stashed in her car’s glove box at all times. One of the most important things she’s learned during her years as a tax field deputy? You’ve got to always be prepared.
She knocks on doors of employers throughout Richland, Lexington and Calhoun counties in her efforts to deliver subpoenas for Wage and Contribution reports and accompanying records. Sometimes employers don’t answer or are not around so Driggers tapes an envelope holding the subpoena and her business card to the door. Over the years, she’s found this to be an effective technique as it ensures that individuals see the paperwork.
Driggers, Columbia district manager for Field Services, is one of 31 field deputies throughout the state that work to foster employer understanding about what the unemployment insurance law requires and maintain a good relationship between DEW and businesses. The Field Services Division’s purpose is to protect the UI program’s integrity by working with all businesses.
They are responsible for securing delinquent Wage and Contribution reports, conducting audits, conducting wage investigations, and making changes in status of an employer’s account. They also assist in presenting monthly Small Business Tax Workshops with the Internal Revenue Service and the SC Department of Revenue. Check out the schedule of upcoming sessions and locations here.
“We have to be accountants and work with facts and figures,” said Driggers. “We have to be attorneys and know the law. We have to be a private detective. We’re also kind of public relations because we’re out there on the front lines. We are friendly but firm. You have to know how to relate to people in all walks of life.”
Bottled water and power bars are other essentials in her toolbox, said Driggers, who travels the backroads of Irmo, Chapin and Lexington County most days.
On a recent June morning, she began her rounds delivering subpoenas in the St. Andrews area, worked her way through the heart of Irmo, continued the journey into the county and through downtown Lexington. She knocked on doors, taped paperwork to doors and windows, talked to neighbors, left word with employees and even collected some reports that had been promised to her.
She later reported that she heard back and received paperwork and information from all but one of the employers she was seeking out that particular day.
“With time you spot trends and learn how to deal with people,” said Driggers who explained that 90 percent of the employers she encounters are nice and very easy to work with.
However, there are some challenges. For example, being a field deputy is not an 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. When’s the best time to find a roofer in May? Try 5 a.m., says Driggers. Or the owner of a pool hall? You have to stop by after 6.
“Everyone of us has had adventures,” she said with a laugh.
Driggers said she loves the variety her job offers.
“Every single day is something new,” she said.
Ronnie Clamp, manager of the state Field Services Division who served as a field deputy for 20 years, agrees.
“The cool thing about being a field deputy is you deal with accountants, attorneys and employers,” he said. “And to me the most interesting part was getting out and talking to them about their businesses and the different creative ideas people had for starting businesses.”
Learn more about Field Services and how to reach your local contact here.