SUTA tax rate

What Is the SUTA Tax Rate?

The State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA), or the State Unemployment Insurance (SUI) rate, is a payroll tax that funds unemployment benefits for qualified individuals who lose their jobs. 

SUTA Tax Rate varies depending on the state, the industry, and the individual employer’s history with unemployment claims (known as “experience rating”).

States typically assign a standard new employer rate for new employers, ranging from 1% to over 3%. After the business has been established for a certain period, usually one to three years, the state recalculates the rate based on the employer’s unemployment claims history by former employees. This incentivizes businesses to avoid layoffs and maintain a stable workforce.

Additionally, states set a wage base limit, which caps the amount of an employee’s income subject to SUTA tax. This wage base can vary greatly, from about $7,000 to over $50,000 annually, depending on the state. 

How Is SUTA Tax Calculated?

Unlike federal income tax, SUTA tax is not based on an individual’s earnings. Instead, it’s a payroll tax levied on employers to fund unemployment benefits. Here’s how it works:

  • State-based: Each state has its own SUTA tax rate and wage base. You can find these on your state’s Department of Labor website.
  • Tax rate: Your SUTA tax rate is determined by a few factors, including your industry and your business’s unemployment claims history (experience rating). New companies typically get a standard rate.
  • Wage base: SUTA taxes are limited to the wage base amount. So, even if an employee earns a high salary, the tax only applies to the wage base amount.

To calculate an employee’s SUTA tax, you multiply the tax rate by the taxable wages (up to the wage base).

SUTA Tax = State SUTA Tax Rate x Employee’s Wages (Up to Wage Base)

 For example, if the rate is 3% and the wage base is $40,000, you’d pay $1,200 in SUTA tax for an employee who makes $40,000 or more that year.

Remember, you only apply the tax rate to the portion of wages up to the wage base, not their total earnings.

Who Is Responsible For Paying SUTA Tax?

In most states, the employer is responsible for paying the SUTA tax. These contributions fund the state’s unemployment insurance program, providing laid-off workers benefits.

There are exceptions, though. Three states – Alaska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – require both employers and employees to contribute to SUTA tax. This means you’ll need to withhold a specific amount from employee paychecks and remit it alongside your employer contribution to the state.

Note: Check with your state’s unemployment insurance agency to confirm who’s responsible for SUTA tax in your specific situation and what the current tax rate and wage base are.

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