I would like to shorten the following phrase: "pension fund holdings that have to be returned to the government." Can you think of any expression meaning something along the lines of "that have to be returned to" to modify government or another way to simplify my phrase?

Thank you, Martin

  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. Would you please provide some examples of thoughts you've had and why they didn't work? – rajah9 May 15 '19 at 13:23
  • I'm wondering about context: are the holdings being returned because of inaction on the pensioner's part? Were the holdings overpaid and the pensioner fraudulent? Were the holdings overpaid because of government oversight? Is the government nationalizing the funds without the pensioner's consent? – rajah9 May 15 '19 at 13:25
  • Please edit your question to provide a sample sentence so that we know the context in which you’d like to modify the word ‘government’. – Lawrence Jun 15 '19 at 2:00
  • No; absolutely not. (Anything) that "have to be returned to the government" necessarily implies very much more than mere gross-or-nett arithmetic. How could obvious suggestions such as "due…" or "owing…" even come close? – Robbie Goodwin Mar 11 '20 at 2:22

I can't think of a specific word that would work in every instance. You could use "refunded" or "owed" depending on the context of the surrounding sentences.

The government made improper pension payments worth $3,270. These funds must be refunded to the government.


The money that was improperly paid is now owed to the government by the pensioners.



that can or must be sent, taken, given, or put back to where it came from. (Cambridge Dictionary)

(Merriam-Webster dictionary)

legally required to be returned, delivered, or argued at a specified time or place.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.