October 31, 2023

What is SUTA tax and how does it effect payroll?

A well-run business needs good payroll management. As an employer, it is essential to understand various taxes and their implications on payroll. One such tax is the State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA) tax. SUTA requirements, unlike its federal counterpart, will vary from state to state. Thus, to avoid penalties, it’s crucial for business owners to understand and meet these requirements.

What is SUTA?

SUTA tax is a state-level payroll tax that employers must pay to fund unemployment benefits provided to eligible workers. It is different from Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), which is a federal tax paid by employers to support state unemployment programs. Each state sets its own SUTA tax rate based on factors like the employer’s experience rating, industry, and types of employment. The experience rating is determined by the number of former employees who have claimed unemployment benefits after leaving the company. Employers with a higher incidence of claims generally have higher SUTA tax rates.

The SUTA tax rate is typically expressed as a percentage of an employee’s wages up to a specific wage base limit. Once the employee’s wages exceed this limit, no further SUTA tax is levied on that income for the year.

SUTA in Missouri.

In Missouri, employers pay State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA) taxes to fund unemployment benefits for eligible workers. The SUTA tax rates in Missouri vary from 0.06% to 5.4%, depending on an employer’s “experience rating,” which is influenced by the number of former employees who have claimed unemployment benefits. This tax applies to the first $14,000 each worker earns annually, known as the wage base limit. Therefore, once an employee’s earnings exceed this limit, their income isn’t subject to further SUTA tax for that year. Employers must pay these taxes on a quarterly basis, and failing to do so may result in penalties and interest charges.


2023 SUTA Rates:

State Wage Base Min (%) Max (%)
Alabama $8,000 0.7 6.3
Alaska $47,100 1 5.4
Arizona $8,000 0.08 20.93
Arkansas $7,000 0.3 14.2
California $7,000 1.5 6.2
Colorado $20,400 0.75 10.39
Connecticut $15,000 1.7 6.6
D.C. $9,000 1 7.4
Delaware $14,500 0.3 8.2
Florida $7,000 0.1 5.4
Georgia $9,500 0.04 8.1
Hawaii $56,700 1.7 6.2
Idaho $49,900 0.306 5.4
Illinois $13,271 0.725 7.625
Indiana $9,500 0.5 9.4
Iowa $36,100 0 7
Kansas $14,000 0.1 6
Kentucky $11,100 0.3 9
Louisiana $7,700 0.09 6.2
Maine $12,000 0 5.4
Maryland $8,500 1 10.5
Massachusetts $15,000 0.94 14.37
Michigan $9,500 0.06 10.3
Minnesota $40,000 0.1 8.9
Mississippi $14,000 0 5.4
Missouri $10,500 0 5.4
Montana $40,500 0 1.42
Nebraska $9,000 0 5.4
Nevada $40,100 0.3 5.4
New Hampshire $14,000 0.1 8.5
New Jersey $41,100 0.6 5.4
New Mexico $30,100 0.33 6.4
New York $12,300 2.1 9.9
North Carolina $29,600 0.06 5.76
North Dakota $40,800 0.08 9.97
Ohio $9,000 0.3 9.7
Oklahoma $25,700 0.3 9.2
Oregon $50,900 0.7 5.4
Pennsylvania $10,000 1.42 10.37
Rhode Island $28,200 1.1 9.7
South Carolina $14,000 0.06 5.46
South Dakota $15,000 0 9.3
Tennessee $7,000 0.01 10
Texas $9,000 0.31 6.31
Utah $44,800 0.3 7.3
Vermont $13,500 0.4 5.4
Virginia $8,000 0.1 6.2
Washington $67,600 0.23 8.03
West Virginia $9,000 1.5 8.5
Wisconsin $14,000 0 10.7
Wyoming $29,100 0.48 9.78

How does SUTA impact Payroll?

Cost to the Employer:

The primary impact of SUTA tax on payroll is its financial cost to employers. SUTA taxes are separate from income taxes and other payroll taxes like Social Security and Medicare. It adds an additional expense for businesses as they must set aside funds to pay these taxes regularly.

Wage Base Limit:

The wage base limit determines the maximum amount of an employee’s wages that are subject to SUTA tax. For example, if the wage base limit is $10,000 and an employee earns $12,000 during a year, only $10,000 will be subject to SUTA tax. This limit helps reduce the burden on higher-income employees and employers.

Different Rates for Different Employers:

As mentioned earlier, SUTA tax rates vary based on an employer’s experience rating and other factors. This means that different employers in the same state might have different SUTA tax rates. Employers with lower experience ratings tend to have lower tax rates, while those with higher experience ratings face higher rates.

Impact of Layoffs and Claims:

When employees are laid off or terminated, they may be eligible to file for unemployment benefits. The frequency and number of claims impact an employer’s experience rating, which in turn affects the SUTA tax rate. If a company has frequent layoffs or terminations, it can lead to higher SUTA tax rates, increasing payroll costs.

Impact on Cash Flow:

SUTA taxes are typically paid quarterly or annually, depending on the state’s requirements. This means that employers must allocate funds for these taxes throughout the year, affecting their cash flow management. Failure to pay SUTA taxes on time may result in penalties and interest charges.

Unemployment Insurance Costs:

SUTA taxes fund the state’s unemployment insurance program, which provides temporary financial assistance to eligible individuals who become unemployed through no fault of their own. By paying SUTA taxes, employers contribute towards building a safety net for their workers in case of job loss.

Record-Keeping and Reporting:

Like other payroll taxes, employers need to maintain accurate records of SUTA tax payments and filings for compliance purposes. This includes documenting employee wages subject to the tax, calculating the tax amount due, and submitting it to the respective state agency along with any required reports.

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

Stay updated on changes:

Since SUTA tax rates can change from year to year, it is crucial to keep track of updates from the state agency responsible for unemployment insurance. This can help businesses plan their budgets and adjust payroll processes accordingly.

Minimize employee turnover:

One way to mitigate higher SUTA tax rates is to reduce employee turnover. Implementing strategies to improve employee retention can help maintain a favorable experience rating and minimize the impact on payroll costs.

Accurate record-keeping:

Maintaining detailed records of wages and tax payments is crucial for smooth SUTA tax administration. Using reliable HRIS and payroll software can streamline this process and ensure accurate reporting.

How can we help?

Understanding SUTA tax and its impact on payroll is essential for businesses to ensure compliance with state regulations and appropriately manage their finances. Utilizing a payroll provider like Tesseon can greatly simplify SUTA compliance. With a deep understanding of intricate state-specific tax regulations, we ensure timely and accurate calculation and payment of SUTA taxes, reducing the risk of penalties and fines due to errors or missed deadlines. This not only ensures smooth administration but also allows businesses to focus more on their core operations, making it an overall cost-effective solution.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog page is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. It is advisable to seek professional legal counsel before taking any action based on the content of this page. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and we will not be liable for any losses or damages arising from its use. Any reliance on the information provided is solely at your own risk. Consult a qualified attorney for personalized legal advice.

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