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March 30, 2010
How To Control Your Unemployment Tax Rates

In a 2010 BLR webinar entitled "Unemployment Taxes and Claims: How to Reduce Your Costs and Effectively Contest Claims," Ronald Adler, president and CEO of Laurdan Associates, Inc., outlined what employers need to know to keep unemployment taxes low.

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"Your primary goal in reducing unemployment tax expenses is keeping your tax rates as low as possible," said Adler. "Truly, this is one instance in which you can honestly influence the taxes you pay state government based on what you do in the workplace."

A company's state unemployment tax rates are almost always directly affected by the number of former employees who have successfully filed for unemployment benefits after leaving their jobs and the total benefits they have been paid. These rates are experience-based payroll taxes. Also, said Adler, employers should remember that they pay 100 percent of these taxes. The taxes are not deducted from workers’ paychecks and remitted by the employer; employers must pay them out of their own pockets.

"Your first step should be determining your current unemployment tax rates that you are paying in the states in which you operate," Adler said. "You should be receiving regular statements showing these rates, or you can ask local unemployment offices to give you this information. Then, ask those offices how your current rates have been calculated—and, if they appear high, ask why that’s the case."

Ronald Adler is president and CEO of Laurdan Associates, Inc., a human resources management consulting firm specializing in unemployment insurance audits, consulting, research and expert witness testimony. Contact him at

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