Employers to ante more in payroll taxes

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published May 1, 2002  | May 2002 issue

With recent high unemployment rates and increasing demands on unemployment insurance benefits, Wisconsin employers can expect to pay more in payroll taxes by 2004.

One bump up in the payment schedule will likely cost employers an average of $10 more for each employee. And while unemployment taxes have been considered low over the past 10 years, the state's unemployment insurance trust fund, financed through employer taxes, will need a boost. If predictions are accurate, the state will pay out nearly $1.3 billion in jobless benefits this year, nearly as much as it paid in 2000 and 2001 combined.

Incremental payroll tax rate increases take effect automatically when the fund dips to certain levels, with the largest increase occurring when the fund sinks below $300 million. By the end of 2004, the fund could drop to $117 million. But according to a recent national report on unemployment benefits, Wisconsin had the 22nd healthiest fund in the country; New Mexico ranked first and Texas last.

Kathy Cobb