Attention employers – UI Tax reform underway
January 31, 2012
On Dec. 19, 2011, the State Legislature approved a comprehensive solution to Michigan’s defunct Unemployment Trust Fund. Prior to the reform action, the system, which is wholly financed through taxes on employers, was indebted to the federal government by nearly $3.4 billion and was structurally unstable. Without legislative intervention Michigan employers would have been subject to substantial and steadily increasing federal penalties to repay the debt and interest, without building solvency in the Trust Fund.
Specifically, the reform package issues bonds to repay the $3.4 billion debt. Employers are legally obligated to repay the balance. By issuing bonds and assessing employers for repayment, business owners will experience a significant savings relative to the heighted federal interest and penalties due in 2012.
To insure that the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund remains stable and solvent going forward, the business community and the legislature agreed that the taxable wage would have to be raised from $9,000 to $9,500. However, the taxable wage base will automatically decrease to $9,000 once the Trust Fund returns to a balance of $2.5 billion.
Fiscal reforms were not enough, however, to guarantee future solvency. Changes tightening qualifying standards, imposing more severe penalties for defrauding the system and loosening rules for seasonal employers will help make the reforms a complete solution. After years of decline, Michigan’s UI system is again stable.
Beginning this week, business owners will receive a detailed explanation of these reforms directly from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Members who have questions are encouraged to utilize the Department’s new Office of Employer Ombudsman through its toll-free phone number at 1-855-484-2636 (4-UIAOEO) or via e-mail at OEO@michigan.gov. The Office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. SBAM members may also contact David Jessup, SBAM’s Director of Government Relations, via email at email@example.com.
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