Overview:The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), along with state unemployment insurance systems, pays unemployment insurance benefits to employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. While FUTA taxes are not withheld from employees' pay, most employers must pay FUTA taxes on a quarterly basis up to an annual wage base. The base FUTA tax rate is 6% and the taxable wage base is $7,000. Most employers also must pay state unemployment insurance taxes, although at different annual wage bases and tax rates than under FUTA. A few states also require employees to contribute into the system. Employers can take steps to reduce their federal unemployment insurance tax rates.
FUTA Credits: Employers may be able to reduce their overall FUTA liability by taking credits against state unemployment insurance contributions paid. Beware that these credits may be reduced in a given year if the state where the employer is located is a credit reduction state - a state that has borrowed money from the federal government to pay regular benefits during times of high unemployment, but that has failed to pay back the loans by certain dates. The US Department of Labor certifies by each November 10 which states have taken steps toward financial solvency.
Employer Benefit Overpayment Penalties: Employers may be subject to higher unemployment insurance (UI) benefit costs if they do not properly respond to UI claim notices received from state labor departments requesting information about benefit claims. This is because the unemployment insurance laws in every state and the District of Columbia now conform to the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act (TAAEA). These laws prevent individuals who file UI benefit claims from receiving greater amounts of benefits than they are actually entitled to and improve the states' ability to recover such overpayments. However, some sates impose even stricter standards than those required by the TAAEA.
Author: Rena Pirsos, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to include information on a Kentucky Supreme Court case regarding liability for making false statements in unemployment proceedings.
Updated to include final regulations governing supplemental EMACs, effective January 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect forthcoming protections against identity theft under the Michigan Employment Security Act.
Updated to include an amendment related to unemployment benefits eligibility and domestic violence, effective January 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect the applicability of electronic filing and electronic funds transfer requirements to smaller employers, effective January 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect changes in the list of FUTA-exempt wages under the federal tax reform law, effective January 1, 2018.
Updated to include the requirement that all employers must file quarterly reports and payments electronically, effective January 1, 2018
Updated to reflect the 2018 state taxable wage base amounts.
Compliance with federal (FUTA) and state (SUTA) unemployment insurance taxes and employer options for reducing their tax rates.