FileUnemployment

What Does an Employer Pay Off for Unemployment?

The amount that an employer shells out for unemployment will depend on the sum of his payroll, his track record in keeping employees and the rates that are specific to his state. Besides, all employers should pay a federal unemployment tax that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funnels back to the states to help pay administrative costs for unemployment programs.

How much is a Claim going to Cost Employers?

Most employers are legally responsible to pay premiums into the trust fund on the first $7000 paid to each employee in the calendar year. Premium rates for new non-governmental employers are based on the experience of their industry grouping, if the industry grouping has an extremely high benefit payout. All other new employers are allotted a 2.7% new employer premium rate. In the past, mining and construction are the only industries with new employer rates higher than 2.7%.

Employers responsible for premiums for three consecutive calendar years as of December 31 have rates based on their skill. Premium rates vary from 0.0% to 10% for non-governmental employers and from 0.3% to 3% for governmental employers. Local and state governments and certain nonprofit employers have the choice of paying premiums or repaying the trust fund for their share of benefits paid to the former employees.

Employer Liability for Unemployment Taxes

In order to fund unemployment compensation benefit programs, employers are subject to federal and state unemployment taxes depending on several factors. These factors include the sums employers pay their employees, the unemployment claims filed against the business, and the type & age of the business.

Employers must pay federal and state unemployment taxes so as to fund the unemployment tax system. Unemployment compensation is intended to pay benefits to workers when they are laid off through no fault of their own.

FUTA

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) imposes a payroll tax on employers, depending on the wages they pay to their employees. Unlike some other payroll taxes, the business itself has to pay the FUTA tax. You do not hold back the FUTA tax from an employee’s wages.

Your business has to pay the FUTA tax if during the current or the previous calendar year you meet any of the following tests:

  1. You pay wages totaling at least $1,500 to your employees in any calendar quarter; or
  2. You have at least one employee on any given day in each of 20 different calendar weeks

Once you fulfill either of the tests, you become liable for the FUTA tax for the whole calendar year and for the next calendar year as well.

Computing the Tax

The FUTA tax is imposed at a single flat rate on the first $7,000 of wages that you give each employee. Once an employee’s wages for the calendar year go beyond $7000, you have no additional FUTA liability for that employee for the year.

Credit for State Unemployment Taxes

You can usually claim credits against your gross FUTA tax to reflect the state unemployment taxes you pay. If you paid all your state unemployment taxes on time, and prior to the due date of your FUTA tax return, you will be permitted to claim a credit equal to 5.4% of your federally taxable wages. This will in effect reduce the FUTA tax to 0.6%.

Unlike state unemployment tax rates, your federal unemployment tax rate does not reduce if you do not dismiss workers. However you will save money on federal unemployment tax if you have fewer employees with higher earnings rather than a greater number of employees each earning less money.

State Unemployment Tax Employer Liability

Similar to how the federal UC program is funded; in order to fund each state’s unemployment compensation program almost all the states impose unemployment taxes directly on employers. Also similar to the federal system is the fact that apart from a few states, you do not withhold these taxes from your employees’ wages.

If you have employees in New Jersey, Alaska, or Pennsylvania you will also be withholding unemployment taxes from your employees’ wages since these states assess unemployment taxes on employees.

State Tax Rate

Your state unemployment tax rate is based on your history as an employer. When you first open your UI account, your tax rate will be fairly high because you have no track record. If you work for several years without laying off an employee, your tax rate will go down. If you continually lay off employees, your tax rate will increase.

Are you Liable for Your State’s Unemployment Taxes?

In nearly all states, if you are subject to the federal unemployment tax, you are automatically accountable for the state unemployment tax. In the remaining states, broader tests are applied for taxability. It means that if you have employees in the states with the broader tests for taxability, you may finish up paying state unemployment taxes even if you are not obliged to pay the federal ax.

Computing Your State Unemployment Tax Liability

Computing what you owe in state unemployment taxes is just a matter of multiplying the wages you pay each of your employees by your tax rate. However, each state confine the tax you have to pay with respect to any one employee by detailing a maximum wage amount to which the tax applies. Once an employee’s wages for the calendar year surpass that maximum amount, your state tax liability with respect to that employee ends.

Payroll Amount

The sum that you pay in the unemployment tax depends on the total sum of your payroll. Both federal and state unemployment taxes are computed as percentages, so higher gross payroll will convert to a higher unemployment premium even if your tax rate is low. However, wages subject to federal unemployment taxes are limited at $7000 per employee, so federal unemployment tax depends less on the wages paid to each employee.

How It Works

If you are laid off due to conditions that are not your fault, you are entitled for state unemployment benefits. You are qualified to obtain unemployment if your employer lays you off due to lack of work, but you are not allowed if you simply do not feel like getting up and going to work unless you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to do so. Your employer does not directly pay the unemployment benefits that you receive, but he will pay a higher unemployment tax rate because you have made a claim against his account.

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  1. I applied for unemployment on 8-1 and was approved. I received my letter of eligibility and debit card about a week ago. I did not file my intitial bi weekly claim because I missed the deadline by 1 day (didn’t realize they would be closed on Saturday). When I logged on it said I would have to reopen a claim because mine had been closed. I filled out the online form to deactivate the claim. My question is this: will I have another waiting week? And will unemployment have to contact my employer all over again to verify my wages and go through the entire process all over again or will they just reopen the claim with a new date window to file?

  2. Lost my job in 10/2018 due to plant closure, collected vacation and severance pay. Opened a claim in 1/2019. Got an on the job training job through career link in 5/2019 worked one week and became very sick and was off for two weeks VA could not find anything wrong but gave me medication for the symptoms and an excuse to return to work, prior to returning got a call from my recruiter at career link telling me the position was filled so i did not return. Reopened my claim, a few weeks later got a letter informing me the employer had appealed and said i did not return, had a hearing and the employer did not show but i lost and got a 2500.00 over payment. Got a temp job through an agency but have only worked 4 days in two weeks. Reopened my claim and was told i need to earn 2604.00 from current employer before it can be opened, did i do something wrong? Still applying for work but am days away from losing everything, need income to pay bills. PLEASE HELP

    1. Rodney,

      Your eligibility to claim UI benefits depends on multiple factors including monetary eligibility. If you’ve been officially told about the shortage of earnings, there’s nothing much one can do. If you’re still confident of winning the appeal, please make a strong case.

      1. I live in KY but my base wages were from earnings in GA when I lived there. I’ve exhausted my benefits in KY. Am I able to now file through GA since my earnings through 10/18 came from there?

        1. Dee,

          As much as I am aware, Unemployment Insurance is a one time cycle. Please call the Unemployment Office in GA for more.

  3. The hours at work have been cut due to lack of business for every department.
    So all full-time positions are now part-time.
    How do I file for partial unemployment?
    The only options I see (in Texas) are for full unemployment.

    1. Eric,

      You should be able to claim partial UI benefits. Please consider applying online until full hours are restored.

    1. William,

      If everything goes well, it should not take more than 7-10 business days (waiting week). Please call the Claims Center for more.

  4. I was employed by a VA company for 5 years, my contract ended yesterday (07/31/19), however, I worked remotely for those 5 years and live in FL, which state do I apply to for my unemployment benefits?

    1. Oscar,

      Please check with your employer if they remitted UI taxes into the system. Contract workers are generally not eligible.

        1. Oscar,

          In that case, please go ahead and apply if your employer remitted UI taxes into the system.

    2. You apply in Virginia…however, I worked seasonally and they used a ‘quarter’ that was empty, so even though my employer paid in, I only got a 1/3 of what I should have received. Figured that out later :/ They will also question WHY you aren’t able and available to work IN Virginia. They froze my account for about a month.

  5. I worked 37 years with the same company in Texas. On July 2nd of 2018, I was let go due to workforce reduction. I signed up for benefits several months later and now have drawn my 26 weeks of benefit. Is there any program currently open in Texas or federally that will extend additional money while job seeking?

    1. Lonnie,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  6. I have been an employee of my company for 34 yrs. My position is being eliminated but I have been offered another position for less money. It is a much more physical job that I am not sure I can perform well. I am 75. If I try to fulfill the position and cannot do it, will I still be able to get benefits if I quit? They want me to try it for a couple of weeks to see if I am strong enough and if I can afford the cut in pay.

    1. Lynda,

      I suggest you call the Unemployment Office to find out about eligibility before making a decision on continuation.

      1. I recently lost my job..i was late for work and they took me off the schedule..never told me i was fired..didnt ask for uniforms back. Another cook was andd has been late for work and he didnt get taken off the schedule.can i still get unemployment?

        1. Kandie,

          Please note UI benefits are only offered to claimants who lose employment due to no fault of their own. You can call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  7. Are there any training benefits or programs that will pay for an advanced degree, such as a PhD which is needed to become more employable?

    1. There are multiple training programs administered by the Labor Department in each state. For more info, please call visit the official website of the Unemployment Office.

  8. I’m about to exhaust my Unemployment benefits. I was laid off from my first job and
    found employment then I lost my job and became unemployed again. I applied for benefits and have have almost exhausted my benefits but have not found employment. Can I file for an extension?

    1. Deanna,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  9. After reading your article it’s still not clear to me about requirements surrounding moving to another state and completing/continuing to collect. I have 8 weeks eligibility left, I am moving from MA to FL. The end of your article says: “Since it’s all virtual (online), you may still consider the option of continuing your claims from the base state even if you move to a different one until completion. As a responsible claimant, it’s your duty to inform the base state about your movement to ensure there are no hassles in the near future.”

    So it sounds like even once I am in new state I am eligible to continue to collect from my base state. I can just continue to do my required weekly job search and reporting to and filing in my base state (I do it via phone call-in). No need to complicate things by doing some crazy state transfer of benefits. Benefits also done via direct bank deposit and no need to change anything. Do I even need to tell my base state I am now living in a new state? Why? Thank you.

    1. Paul,

      For the ease of understanding, each state has its specific rules and laws with regard to administering Unemployment Benefits. It might be an obligation for a claimant to inform about the movement. For clarification, please call the Unemployment Office and speak to a representative.

  10. I was recently fired from my work 25-June-2019/due to me not meeting their “standards/ expectations” i submitted my UE claim on 28-June and have not received any pay as of today, 19-July. The status is currently “adjudication in progress,” my question is, should i be worried this will be denied? I read the FAQ on the UE webpage and it said only a couple applications require the adjudication process. How long does this process usually take to get the final answer of whether I’m denied or approved? The website stated it susuallt takes ~25 days for the adjudication process, does this mean once that’s done then i still have to wait another 2-6 weeks for final processing after? THANK YOU SOO MUCH to whomever is able to provide me with some answers/ input.

    Sincerely,
    Talia
    ** this is my first time ever being fired or having to file for unemployment so i really have nooooo idea what is standard or normal or whatever. I feel like an idiot with my simple questions but it would bring me so much relief having them answered, truly

    1. Talia,

      I can understand your reason for the anxiety. Adjudication is a fact-finding process where both the claimant and the employer will get an opportunity to present their case. During this process, make sure to produce supporting documents that amplify your stance. For all you know, the adjudication can be a lengthy process.

      Best Wishes!

  11. I was permanently severanced from my job due to a Co. Reorg & received my last severance pay last week. I called UE & was told that I should now do my application online since I will no longer be getting funds & still without a job & that this coming Sunday regardless of knowing if I will or will not get benefits yet that I should still file a weekly claim in case of UE back pay.
    So my question is, do I still have to report 4 jobs applied to within this week, even if I do not know if I will be approved/denied for benefits until possibly next week anyway?

    1. Lynda,

      You should continue to report the job applications as long as you’ve been asked to do so. There will be a “Waiting Period” and the first payment will take about 7-10 days after which they’ll flow much quicker. Please call the Claims Center for clarification.

  12. I tried to transfer from one state to another. When I left Montana I was told there would be no problem transferring. When I arrived in North Carolina I had trouble reaching the area manager by phone. When he finally called me back he said to meet him for lunch to discuss when and where I would be working. He did not show up for lunch. Then he never returned any of my calls. I went PA to visit a friend a few weeks later and tried there. I met with the hiring manager and was told there should not be a problem doing the transfer since I was still in the system. I called the store a few times and they said it was still pending. Then I was terminated without even a phone call. Am I eligible for unemployment and if so do I file in Montana or North Carolina. I still have a Montana drivers license but I am living in NC.

    1. Stacey,

      As long as you were unemployed involuntarily, you should be able to claim UI benefits. Please consider applying.

  13. I have worked for 32+ years and recently have become unable to work due to health reasons, so I have had to resign from my job. I have contacted SS and will be able to apply for disability but it will take awhile to process. Can I apply for unemployment benefits? I live in WV.

    1. Sandra,

      UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose their employment due to involuntary reasons. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for more.

  14. I had to quit my job at Walmart in Fairmont West Virginia and moved back to my home state ky, I’ve got a son with drug problems and 3 older sisters that are not doing so well in health cause of their age. I didn’t understand about the transfer part they had at Walmart that I could put a date when I could start back because of my car problems I thought when I left I had to go in like in s few days, I’ve applied here at Walmart in Winchester ky 40391 two times already plus dollar store, speedway, truck stop, bp, a few other places it’s been going on 7 months without a job I live with my son and its getting harder on him paying rent and utilities and food, not to mention our personal hygiene stuff I really need help I have no income coming in to help him and his wife out I get foodstamps and Medicaid I was praying I could qualify for unemployment PLEASE HELP!!!

    1. Vicky,

      I can understand your situation. Unfortunately, UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose employment due to involuntary reasons. Please call the Unemployment Office for further clarification.

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